(WARNING: self-indulging ramble ahead)
Here I am, halfway through the month of April, sitting in my dorm in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. Normally on a day like today you can find me practicing around this time, rehearing with one of the people I play duets with, or possibly finishing up some homework. Right now I should be warming up for Symphony Orchestra rehearsal. However, I’m no longer playing in either of the orchestras this cycle. I’ve had to throw duets on the back burner. I’m not learning as many new solos as I had planned. I got mono about two weeks ago, and it’s taking every ounce of energy I have to drag myself to normal classes and get my homework done. That’s fine, I honestly don’t mind having to give up a social life, and the homework for my classes still seems to be going well.
This has been one fun semester. My third day into classes in January started out with me blacking out on the sidewalk while walking to the music building, resulting in bruises, and leading to many other episodes. After a couple weeks of blacking out and falling over almost every single day, I finally went to the doctor. After a couple months of more appointments, lots of testing, no conclusions, tons of blacking out, much difficulty focusing on school and harp, (Sometimes I’d black out when trying to practice) my mom driving the hour to school several times to take me to the doctor, a tilt table, heart monitor, even crying in the harp practice room in front of another human being, (big deal for me haha) lots of blood work, they finally decided a have neuro-cardiac syncope and put me on some meds about three weeks ago. I was pretty excited to have gotten to the bottom of my problems, and was ready to finish out of the last month of the semester in good health. I hadn’t missed any classes or slacked off during any of this, but I was excited to be able to stop worrying and just focus on school for a bit.
After about a week of the medicine, (and no more episodes!) I got strep throat and mono around the same time. It was pretty crummy timing actually. I was supposed to play with clarinetist Michelle Myers to premiere the full piece she commissioned for her senior recital. We did end up performing the first movement, but we had to postpone the full premiere. I had to back out of a gig, a different premiere, an outreach recital, and both orchestras I was playing in. I ended up missing over a week of classes, which is pretty difficult for me! All of my professors were really understanding, and the absences didn’t end up hurting my grades. My harp professor was especially understanding and I’m very grateful. I’m back at school now, but I’m doing the “bare minimum” as the doctor recommended. I sleep a lot, and I’m looking forward to getting back to full productivity mode sometime in the future.
Alright, enough complaining about the things that didn’t go as planned this semester. I’m happy to say that some positive things came about during the past few months. I’ve gone on a little “enlightenment journey” of my own, and I’ve come to really start to put things into perspective. I’ve been thinking about what’s important in life, what makes it important, and who decides what matters. Of course, most of my thoughts eventually lead to music, so I’ve also done a lot of thinking about what it means to be a musician, and why musicians do what they do. I’ve talked to several people, getting their input and asking them what their favorite aspect of being a musician is. I’ve gotten many different responses, and I plan to continue compiling more and eventually sharing them.
Our world is currently obsessed with the concept of mindfulness, something that I’ve been relatively bad at in the past. Over the past few months, I’ve practiced both increased mindfulness and the concept of non-being, and these have helped me and my world outlook considerably. We all too often look at other humans as objects in our own game of life, and it’s important to look at mankind as individual persons with needs much like our own. In that same vein, lately I’ve been reminded that music was created to serve the hearts and souls of human beings, and that it should continue to be treated as such. It shouldn’t just be about serving my own intellectual pursuits, and I shouldn’t take it so seriously that it causes a large stress and inconvience to my life, causing me to resent it. This certainly doesn’t do myself any good, to say nothing of the negative energy my performances would project to the audience.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the recent release of Harry Styles’ first single as a soloist. “Sign of the Times” hit the world a couple weeks ago, and I’m happy to say that it’s a beautiful masterpiece. One of my best friends texted me a few days after the release: “What do you think of Harry’s new song?” Laying in bed with a burning throat and the recent news that I had mono and had to stop/slow down my harping for a bit, I replied: “That is the only good thing in my life right now.” That statement is very far from the truth, but needless to say Harry’s single was a pleasant distraction the past couple weeks. (Okay, I really am done complaining now, things could definitly be much worse)
I’m dangerously close to being an over-thinker, and lately I’ve been worse than usual. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am very fortunate to be where I am in life. Studying music at MSU, having a fantastic roommate who brings me ice cream, phenomenal harp friends who fill in for me and one who even randomly showed up to my room with food two different times, (thanks, Belle!) the best parents ever who inspire me on a daily basis, not to mention everything they do/have done for me, siblings that I share a multitude of jokes with, a John Denver record collection that I am quite proud of, the status of being John Denver’s biggest fan which I am even more proud of, the fact that I do not have any food allergies, a good GPA, my puppet, Gerald, and the fact that I have made it this far without my education costs or McDonald’s eating habits causing me to go bankrupt, among other things. For these things I am undeserving and grateful.
As this semester will soon be drawing to a close, it’s nice to think about what’s happened, what I accomplished, and what I’m pleased with. On paper this semester hasn’t been as fruitful musically as I had planned, but I’m still happy with the way things turned out. Sometimes unexpected things end up being alright. 🙂
(Pictured: Me jumping for joy in front of the Beaumont Tower on a strangely warm day on which I was feeling good in March)