This past Friday, I stepped away. I couldn’t bring myself to make music. I am never one to shirk responsibilities or take time off of practicing because I’m simply sad, exhausted, overly stressed, or even sick. However, this past Friday I knew trying to create something on the harp would do more harm than good.
This website was never intended to be a platform for my political views, and I’m not going to turn it into that now. However, the transition of power in our government that took place this past Friday weighed heavy on my soul. A couple of people very close to me also have been going through some rough patches in their respective lives, and I connect and feel their turmoil on a certain level. These paired with some other different circumstances have caused my mental focus to take a bit of a dip, and my resolve to push on through the confusion and continue to hit life back hard had caught up with me.
Finally, Friday came. I went to the practice room to dive into the various pieces I have to continue learning and perfecting, and I found myself standing in the middle of the floor with my backpack still on, unable to will myself to take the cover off of the harp. I was ticked at myself. I always practice. There are days that my practice sessions don’t turn out to be as productive as I would hope, but at the very least I put my time in and try my best to carry out the musical tasks at hand. Sometimes, creating music proves itself to be an escape and even calms my angst as I practice. Sometimes I even make significant progress when I’m angry. Not on on Friday. I couldn’t do it.
I took a seat next to the covered harp and tried to collect my thoughts before I forced myself to work on my orchestral excerpts. 5 minutes passed. Then 10. Then 15. I was almost approaching 20 minutes when I decided to pull out my phone, close my eyes, and listen to a John Denver song. Even as a maker of music, sometimes it’s listening to the works of others in which I find my solice. I started to feel my head clear, but I couldn’t bring myself to play. I left the practice room and went for a walk. I walked around campus in the fog for a while, listening to John Denver and contemplating life all along the way. At first I felt guilty for making the conscious choice to not practice that day, but I knew the walk was doing more for my musical and personal development than making my fingers pluck out some of my pieces.
Sometimes, I forget to think of myself as a human being who happens to play the harp and has music as a lifelong passion. I often view myself as a harp student first, and a human being with finite mental space second. I often ignore my mind or body telling me to slow down, take a minute and put things into perspective. I didn’t choose music so I could use it as a means to an end, or a vehicle to drive myself to a state of madness. I chose it because I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I chose it because I love it. I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to take a day to breathe every once in a while. In the end, it’ll help my mental state and cause my creativity to heighten.
I’m certainly not concerned that I’ll turn into a lazy monster who practices only a few times a week, and I make taking care of my musical responsibilities a priority. I love everything about music and it’s one of the biggest highlights of my life. However, like all healthy relationships, it can’t be the sole thing in my life. Yes, it’s extremely high on the list, but it’s not the only thing. I’m a person who has a passionate love affair with music, yes, but I’m also a person who loves and thoroughly enjoys spending time with my awesome family, I pride myself on being John Denver’s biggest fan, love talking politics, philosophy, or Muppets, can quote “Napoleon Dynamite” like nobody’s business, enjoys spending Friday nights watching “The Office” with my roommate, has a bad habit of accumulating fines at the library, and would not be disappointed if I was stuck with eating McDonald’s every day for the rest of my life.
I took a day off from harp on Friday. I made a decision to not allow myself to be guilty about it. My John Denver walk along the Red Cedar proved to be more beneficial than a few hours practicing that particular day would have been. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a mental block looking for a way to clear their head 🙂