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.

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