December approaches, and with each December, I look to celebrate my birthday, then Christmas, and then a new year begins. Yup, it’s going to be one of those, ladies and gentlemen: a reflection blog. To see where I am right before my 21st birthday in comparison to where I was before my 20th, it’s as if there were two different people, and so many things have happened in this time that have allowed me to feel in a right place.
The most important is that old saying that life is short, and we must make the most of what we have. I never believed it, and why should I? I was 19 and every day felt as if it were an eternity at this point. Life wasn’t beautiful, it wasn’t anything I wanted a part of, really. It was bleak, cold, and very much a moment where I felt no one in Athens really understood who I was. Then something happened during the winter. I found out that my grandfather had gone to the hospital for a heart condition and that his health was genuinely in jeopardy. He had gone from, the last time I saw him in 2009, being an independent man who could do the yard work, cook, drive many places, play tennis, and even walk far distances was reduced to being bedridden in the hospital with fluid in his lungs. I found this out right before a University Singers concert, and I cried openly. I had lost a great aunt, and I knew that there would be a time soon for my great-grandmother to pass on, but this was shocking. I hadn’t been able to keep up with him or my grandmother as often as I would have liked that quarter, and was hit out of left field. Then I found out from my mother that there was a condition that put a conceivably finite amount of time on how long he had to live, and I had never felt so cold and distant than that moment in the hallway of the music building between class. There was a perspective to my mainly socially-driven problems, and only until this fall quarter did I manage to finally piece that into an idea, into a belief that as long as I try to make the most out of my interactions, this will only continue.
Spring arrived, and with it a chance to redo my physical self. I managed to put myself through a pretty intense exercise regime at least 4 times a week, and as a result, my body composition changed and I dropped back down to my high school pant size. Not nearly a dramatic metamorphosis, but combined with my mom, we lost the weight equivalent of a rather large dog. And I ran my first 5k, and as someone who never loved running at all, it was a major achievement for me. During this time, I finished my musical, and I arranged a piece for Section 8 called “I Believe in You”. I had never been the person, and still am not, to have confidence in my creations, be it in print or in music, and the idea that they were giving it a shot was enough for me. What transpired though was something special, as the group worked it from being simply notes on a paper to a truly powerful meaning, sung with the most conviction and beauty that I’d ever seen them do or anyone do live. The Mom’s Weekend concert was perhaps the proudest moment I’ve had in my life so far, and it was thanks to Section 8 for believing in the arrangement and making it something special, French and all.
Then we parted ways, and what transpired during the summer was recorded in this blog. But as one of my friends said once it was all over: “As long as we don’t dwell, it will [all] be fine”.
Then as soon as we ended summer, fall blew in and another chance to start anew began. Rather than waste the time of slowly and rather shyly incorporate myself in the same pattern of the previous two years, something changed all of that. I had to become an adult: I received a position as Director of Music at Parkersburg’s First United Methodist Church. I was no longer only working for myself, as a student normally does, but for the learning experience of others and their enjoyment of music. It forced me to think, for the first time in my life, truly about other people. I love this job, no matter how much it frustrates me sometime, because I can see the progress my choir makes, and it’s so inspiring to continue my craft and get out into my field of work. I don’t know if I could really be anything else but a music teacher in my life.
And then there’s one of the joys of my life: the Marching 110. Coupled with SMO, this quarter was perhaps the most fun, and the greatest experiences I’ve had in college. Ever. What was written down as a pretty simplistic job (manager) turned me into a cheerleader, a proud parent, a physical therapist, a security guard, a roadie, a food provider, a disgruntled football fan, a very happy football fan, a world mover, a runner-tripper, and has given me over 200 of some of the best people to share all of this with. Without the opportunity to make new impressions on people, I would not be the same person. Every single one of those marchers, from field commander to alternate, has given me such sense of inclusion, purpose, and community that I can’t even begin to say thank you for all of it. And all of my friends, old and new, in both ensembles have just been the most wonderful people anyone could ask for. Thank you all for your friendship; you don’t know how much it means to me to be able to call everyone in SMO and the 110 friends.
Finally, there’s opera theatre. The opportunity to perform has given me so much more confidence; knowing that my director and fellow cast mates believed in my ability to follow through and give a top-notch performance of Lily’s Eyes and Make Our Garden Grow fed my confidence in my abilities, giving me strength and the courage to perform rather than crumble under the nerves. Greg (because I know you’re reading this), singing with you is one of my best memories, and something I will always remember, no matter where life takes us.
But 2011 isn’t over yet. There are still more notes to be played, more songs to be sung, and more people to meet and befriend. And there are still more times I can see my grandfather and my family and tell them how much I love them with all of my heart. There are three weeks left, and I fully intend on making those three weeks mean something. No amount of time should be wasted guessing or wandering.
And 2012? There’s 2/3rd’s of an academic year, the continuing of research into a new life in the UK, SMO tour, potential fundraising and saving for a European 110 and Wind Symphony trip, orchestra Ohio tour, a potential outing to London for job searching, the B Minor Mass, semester shift, good times with great people, and all of the Great Unknown that only God knows. Here’s to looking forward to January 1.