Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where Are You Christmas? Oh, There You Are...

It seems every Christmas season, sometime throughout the December month, I am allowed a few quiet moments when the Christmas Spirit pulls a sneak attack and punches me directly in the face. Seemingly to redirect my attention from the overwhelming hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping gifts and etc., to refocus on the more sacred aspects of the season. It happened to me again last night while at a dress rehearsal for an upcoming Christmas concert with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. I (as a saxophone player) only play on two (of about 10) pieces. In past rehearsals the director graciously rehearsed those two pieces first so I could play, and then immediately bail out. Until last night I had not heard the entire program.

Almost immediately after agreeing to play in this neighboring community group, I regretted it. Rehearsals are about a 20 minute drive from Ogden and basically a royal pain in my neck. While looking at my calendar and seeing an evening commitment every night until Christmas, I was feeling over committed, stressed out, tired and experiencing some Christmas crankiness. I was especially regretting this commitment last night when a bad address to the concert venue sent me on a wild goose chase all over the Layton/Clearfield area. I was nearly half an hour late to the rehearsal and as I took my seat in the back, was feeling so angry and upset about the situation, I actually felt a few hot tears of frustration welling up in my eyes. I sat there in silence, allowing my little tantrum to pass, half listening to the program, half running through the mile long list of Christmas still to do's, regretting my inability to say no to stuff like this.

And then it happened: Christmas Spirit. Boom! The first few songs I observed the group playing were kind of "pop-ish" in nature, such as Charlie Brown Christmas, a Jingle Bell rendition and a few others. And then the most beautiful cello solo began on this piece "Stille Nacht." It was so beautiful it sort of shook me to my emotional core. Performed by an extremely talented high school student, I closed my eyes to listen more closely, and it could have been Yo-Yo Ma performing,  I wouldn't have known the difference. A flawless, slow Silent Night piece that reminded me to knock off my Christmas whiny-ness/craziness and redirect my attention where it belonged, on Baby Jesus, selfless giving and kind thoughts and deeds towards others.

Those tears of frustration quickly shifted to subtle warm tears of Christmas Spirit joy and thankfulness and I soon realized I was exactly where I needed to be. Not shopping, not home wrapping gifts, fluffing the Christmas tree, cleaning house or anything else. I was meant to be right there, enjoying the raw, pure talent of others, and helping further the "Christmas Spirit," for others.

Here's a link to enjoy that wonderful Christmas piece. Click on play, close your eyes and allow yourself six minutes of pure, uninterrupted Christmas cheer. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today, for like, the millionth time, I was running late and barely caught the bus. As I climbed onto the bus, wet hair, no make up, totally disheveled looking, I saw a girl on the bus who I just want to kill. As in rip her perfect looking face off. I can't understand why I feel such dislike for this woman that I hardly know. Only because she is beautiful? And appears to be perfect in every way?

As I hurriedly board the bus everyday, I always see her comfortably seated, snacking on a nutritious breakfast, reading her scriptures. Her outfits are always so cute, hair and makeup is always done, nails perfectly manicured and for all of the aforementioned reasons, I can't stand her. I've talked with her a few times on the bus and she filled me in on how perfect her life is. Although probably five years younger than I am, she's married, a homeowner and loves her perfect job and feels it's the best career move she's ever made. She sees herself retiring from this company. My life, in comparison, has been... a little less organized. I like my job...but it's a job, not a "career" by any means. I'm not married, with no prospects nor do I own a home...or anything for that matter.

And then, early this morning, as I sat on the dark cold bus brushing my wet hair into a pony and applying my make up, I realized something important: I have *got* to stop comparing myself to other peeps. Like, *have* to. This chick may appear perfect, but I've learned from hearing many a peeps stories that everyone has their stuff. And I may not be where I want to be in life right at this very moment, but I'm getting there. I've got a five year plan (it changes daily, but it's there). I have discovered that "inner peace" that comes with acknowledging my weaknesses. I have purpose and direction in my life and I know my worth. It's a good life, and seriously, I AM GOOD ENOUGH. So, let's do this.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Labor of Love...

I participated in a small concert today at the Ogden Botanical Gardens. I say "small" because there was maybe, like...10 peeps in the audience. Admittedly, I didn’t want to be there either. It was 100 degrees in the middle of a busy Saturday. It was hard for me not to whine and feel an extra amount of crankypants. Sitting in the extreme heat, I wondered why the scheduling committee arranged for our band to play during the very last hour of the Arts Festival, when everyone was already gone. The view from the saxophone section was of several overheated senior citizens and the few remaining arts festival peeps tearing down their booths.

I felt annoyed. I felt hot, frustrated and kept wondering why I keep showing up for stuff like this because I have absolutely zero free time in my schedule.

And then, the music started. We had too long of a play list to finish it within the hour we were allotted, and promised the minuscule audience they could hear the rest of it at our next concert.  As soon as the last applause ended, I bolted. I couldn't get to my air conditioned vehicle soon enough. So when a hippy looking "bro" approached me en route to my air conditioned "mecca," I was in little mood for chit chat. And then he said, "Hey...thanks for playing today. I can't remember the last time I heard live, it was great to hear your group today." I thanked him and climbed into my car and cranked on the AC. 

I sat there for a moment...waiting for the cool air and then I looked up and noticed several band members, at least twice my age, hoofing it back to their cars. As I asked myself why one band member would drive all the way from SLC for this, the thought hit me: we are all here for the same reason: love. Don't judge how this sounds because it's abso-frickin-lutely true. It's a labor of love. These peeps aren't here to perform for large audiences, or to even be acknowledged. They LOVE the music. And so do I. There's a reason I very rarely miss a rehearsal. Not only a sense of duty and obligation to this group, but because I always leave better then I arrived. Whatever is going on in my hell-uh busy life seems to go on hold for a few hours of "music therapy."

As I drove home, a small part of me wondered, what if we didn't show up to play today? Would it even matter? Well...yeah. Kind of. It mattered to the few peeps that were there not only in the audience, but those who were performing.  I then reflected on all the time I spent alone in the "practice studio" I created in my basement, in practice rooms from Interlochen all the way throughout college and basically any small area where I could sit or stand to practice my saxophone. I quickly recalled that I did all of that primarily alone. No one was there to hear me practice...I did it because I love it, and wanted to get better. And it has given back to me. I was lucky enough to pay for a good majority of my undergraduate education on a music scholarship and intend (fingers crossed) to also pay for my graduate program with a similar music scholarship. 

That's basically it. Just a little reminder rant about loving your art. Find something you love, do well at it, and carry on. I also vowed to stop the whining about feeling too busy and overwhelmed to participate in things that really matter, regardless of the size of the audience and remember why I do what I do.