Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The blank canvass

OK, I'm not a painter -- how about the blank page?  Very intimidating, the blank page.  I don't usually write very well from the blank page.  There's usually something swimming around in my head long before I allow myself to touch the page -- well, swimming around and knocking desperately on the door, insisting I let it out.  Or barf it up, as the case may be...  :-)

I don't write songs because I want to write a song, I write them because they give me no choice.

Kind of like how I've lived my life.  These are you confines, this is how you need to live.  This is your budget, these are the number of hours in the day (OK, those are the confines I still tend to ignore...), these are the resources at hand.  Fit the jigsaw pieces together and deal with it.

If I'm just dealing with it, I'm not really having to make a choice.  It's kind of easy that way.  Survival skills 101.  I'm really awesome at survival.  Crisis, chaos, conflict -- my forte.

Choice... not so much.

Here I am, well into month two of the time I allotted for figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up... and I'm still looking at barriers, figuring out how to navigate them.  Reacting to "reality" while making my "choices".

How many of those barriers are actual barriers, and how many of them are me trying to avoid making real choices?

How many choices am I making based on other people's parameters, or what I think my choices "should" be?

Under the guise of dreaming big, Don and I have been perusing the real estate listings for our dream home.  Some of the obvious things we want are a space big enough to hold house concerts, separate areas (be that an out-building or a nanny suite) for us to make music in without getting in each other's way.  Actually, those are really the only "have-to"-s.  We also tend to prefer the "character houses" to the newer homes, and will never, ever put ourselves in a gated community or next to a golf course.  Would LOVE to be in walking / biking distance of downtown and the waterfront.

With these criteria, we've been dreaming.  And we've fallen in love with one house that's WAYYYYY over our price range.  We actually saw it when we were in Victoria in September.  I guess it's kind of like brides and the first wedding dress they try on...  It is a gorgeous house, and if it were anywhere within our price range, I'm sure we'd have bought it in September.

But, here's the thing -- it's about 50% more expensive than some of the other perfect houses that meet our criteria.  Reason being, of course, it's all newly renovated with marble countertops and top-of-the-line fixtures and stuff.

Which... has never really impressed us before.

Yes, the layout impresses us -- big-time.  But... are we going for the glitz because we think we have to have glitz in order to dream big?

I mean, seriously, anyone who has been to our house knows that those marble counter-tops would be covered with piles of "to-do" papers in no time, and never be seen again.  :-)

Not realistic in any stretch of the word.  So... am I chastising myself for liking this house because it's totally impractical, or am I chastising myself for liking this house because I'm dreaming too big, or am I chastising myself because I just really like chastising myself?  And why don't I chastise myself about that for a while, while I'm at it?  ;-)

Of course, Practical Lyssy has found a bunch of similarly-laid-out homes in comparable areas for about half a million less than the Gorgeous Yellow House.  They even have more floor space.  No silly marble countertops.

When we were walking through the Gorgeous Yellow House, a man who'd noticed our Ontario plates pulled us aside and told us the house was far over-priced.  Which might explain why it's still on the market, three months later -- and they've brought the asking price down a bit.  Who knows, maybe by the time we're ready to take the plunge, they'll have realized the error of their ways and we'll get the Gorgeous Yellow House for a Practical-Lyssy-friendly price?

Or maybe there's another place that's just perfect, that will present itself when the timing is right.

Ah yes... but then, am I deferring to "fate" making my choices again???  Arrrgggghhhh...

I need to shut up my lizard brain.  Face the blank page.  Paint my dream home and dream life.  And get ready to dive in.  I won't know what fate has brought me, or when to dive in, until I can paint the dream.

Hand me my paintbrush, please!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not settling

Our Amity Trio concert yesterday, coupled with an article in Strings on forming an ensemble, combined, perhaps, with many of the thoughts that have been flitting through my dearly beloved's and my heads over what we want to be when we grow up (!) all seem to be coming back to the same place.

Don't settle.

The trio's "Gift of Music" concert yesterday was our second performance for this series, the first being two seasons ago.  As I mentioned in our introduction, we were excited to be able to introduce the audience to a new member of the trio, and a new cello.  Both certainly worked their magic -- those who had been at both concerts made a point of saying so.

For years -- oh geez, decades! -- I let myself be stuck with an instrument I was fighting, that wouldn't do what I wanted, that made me sound far crappier than I actually am.  :-)  And then, I finally allowed myself to invest in the proper tool for my career.  And whooosh!  All those things I was fighting were instantly easier.  "Lady Jo" responds to my wishes with grace and passion, whereas "The Old Clunker" (the more polite name) would have made me fight for it -- and probably still not given it to me.

Similarly with the trio, which has had trouble with pianists from the beginning.  When I joined the group, the pianist was a very good player, able to sight-read pretty much anything -- but that's also pretty much all he did.  Any musical decisions discussed were forgotten by the following week, as he sight-read his way through the piece for the hundredth time.  He got all the notes just fine, but there wasn't any life in the music -- add to that our uncertainty whether he would show up for any given date, and you can see it wasn't the most ideal circumstance.  The trio's next pianist was really jumping off the deep end -- and good for her for giving it a whirl.  But without the background or the experience or the technical facility, she was really just turning herself into a giant ball of stress.  Rehearsals had become extended argument sessions, the music was unsatisfying, the concerts frustrating.  And, as with any long-term relationship, it was really hard to get to the point where we all could say so.  It was a relief for all three of us when it was finally said.

Fast-forward to the new trio, where the pianist has equal -- arguably, better -- technique, background and experience to the rest of us.  Which means the rehearsals are now dedicated to the making music part, instead of the tension and fighting and hoping we make it to the end of the piece in one piece.  It's a real ensemble, not three people pulling in opposite directions.  We can make music, not notes, knowing the music won't end in tears or resentment.  And what a relief!  We can actually PLAY music, not just worry if we'll get to the end in one piece.

It's what this is all about, really.  (Oh yeah, and the whopping big salary -- ha ha ha ha ha.)

And so... here we are with the-rest-of-life.  A year of cancer scare and cancer reality, family drama, family victory, end-of-an-era (or seven) and tabula rasa (or, sort-of-rasa) leads us to: what now?  What have we been settling for, when we know we want or need something better?  What would our biggest fantasy life be?  How can we make it happen?  What's holding us back?  How do we shed that skin and face the world anew?

Planning ahead, making long-term plans or goals does not come naturally for either one of us.  We both learned at a young age not to hold out hope, because we'd be brutally disappointed.  Not to expect that the world would reward us for our hard work, just pull the carpet out from under us as we got to the finish line (yes, spectacularly mixed metaphor -- I apologize).  Not to dream, let alone dream big.

Don often gazes at me, dewy-eyed and says "what happens now that all my wishes have come true?"  Well... make bigger and better wishes, I guess.  :-)

We're actually planning our July anniversary.  We missed the first one, because the way life was working at that point, we didn't feel comfortable planning ahead.  Those complications are gone, now.  We're planning ahead.  Over seven months ahead.  I seriously believe it's the first time we've made any concrete plans more than three months in advance.  Baby steps...

What would happen if all my dreams came true?  Well... I won't know unless I figure out what those dreams are!

We've pinpointed a number of "settled-for-s".  Now we have to figure out the "dream-of-s".  Then we have to figure out how to make them happen.

We're dreaming.