Saturday, November 6, 2010
Coming Out of Early Retirement
First of all, I want to thank everyone for their words of encouragement. I feel the love. Life's not bad at all, and I know it. We all have our moments of self-pity, and it's good to have caring friends who can shake you around a little bit and tell you it'll be okay.
Okay. Back to the point.
My lovely friend Tiffany alerted me about this movie that came out in July. A washed up conductor, trying to make his comeback with the help of an orchestra of misfits. Funny? Probably. True to life? A little bit too much so.
Granted, I'm not at "rock bottom," by any means. I'm not working as a custodian (that was a few summers ago!), and not trying to relive the glory days (mostly because I can't figure out which of my days those were). Nonetheless, there is something missing from my life right now, and I don't know how to work it back in. I used to be immersed in music, day in and day out, practicing until they kicked me out of the building and performing more than I really had time to do. These days, I hardly play at all. I teach a few private lessons every week, and I have my little preschool music classes, but that's about the extent of it.
A few weeks ago, I did something I never, never do: I listened to a recording of my playing. Listening to yourself play is like staring at yourself naked in the mirror: you focus so intently on the faults, and it all ends up disgusting you to the point that you essentially feel like a waste of space. Perhaps now you can see why I never listen to my recordings.
What I heard this time surprised me, though. It wasn't totally terrible. There were, in fact, some really lovely moments! More than anything, though, I remembered. I remembered what it felt like to play that piece at that moment, to feel those emotions so deeply that all I could do was to use my cello to express them. Then, I realized that it's been a really long time since I've had that compulsion to express. My music-making has suffered as a result, and now, I'm pretty well in a stage of dormancy (sorry, Gus).
When I hear a familiar piece on the radio, it's like seeing an old friend again. I'm instantly transported to where I was when I last played it. The feelings all come rushing back--including the frustration from never feeling like I was doing any piece of music justice (part, I believe, of why I haven't been playing much of late). As I reflect on all those memories, though, I realize how much of my life experience has been tied up in music, and that if I let that part of myself go, I also forgo many more experiences.
I need to get back into "fighting shape." I'm flirting with the idea of putting on a recital--the first recital of my life that will be just for me. I would revisit only my very favorite pieces, and play them like I want to play them . . . because I do. The only challenge after that, then, is to work up (and keep up) the motivation and the discipline to follow through. I've let it go because I never felt like I measured up, because I felt that the world would be alright if I didn't play. I've never been the best, but neither have I ever allowed myself to be even as good as I could be, whatever that is.
Maybe it's time to find out.