Doing What I CAN Today

My BFF, Beth, asked me today when I was going to post another blog entry, and I realized that I’ve not written anything since walking out the door of my office building for the last time.  Time, in retirement-world, seems to take on whole new dimensions that are kept secret from the working people.  I am a third of the way through October, and it seems like I was bringing in the last office box from my car just a couple of days ago.

There’s a lot I could write about:

  • There’s all the strange activities that happen in the neighborhood between the hours of 8 and 5 – dogs I’ve never seen being walked, roofers and landscapers cruising the streets, a whole different population up and about.
  • There’s the fall edition of the Sight-Reading Saga – not pretty, that one, I’ll leave it for another time.
  • There’s the strange and odd things I find myself doing now that I’m not at work, like changing clothes 5 times a day, as the outside temperature and my activities change.
  • There’s the ongoing tales of physical therapy and the therapist who thinks that I should learn to squat at the age of 58. (Hah!)
  • There’s the latest challenges from harp lessons and recorder class, which could easily take all night to relate.

But what’s drawing me to write tonight, is this:

Yesterday I went to a music workshop put on by Hospice & Palliative Care of Cabarrus County, titled A Meditative Journey through Voice and Instruments. Hospice offers a therapeutic music program for their patients and families, as well as workshops about playing music at patients’ bedsides. Our workshop closed by playing for the residents at the Tucker Hospice House. Our instructor encouraged us to get over ourselves re: pre-performance jitters, saying that we have too much to do before a performance to have time for that. And then she added:

“As musicians, we are always working to improve our skills. And there are things that you cannot do today. It is what it is. But don’t let what you can’t yet do, keep you from sharing and giving to others what you can do.”

And once again I realized that my frustration, disappointment, and embarrassment about what I cannot yet do on the harp, and my judgements about what I think I should be able to do by now after taking harp lessons this long, keep me from sharing and giving what I can do with ease, confidence and an open heart.  I’m left playing with fear instead of with joy, or with love for the harp and the music, or with gratitude for having the harp in my life. My embarrassment, fear, and judgement keep me out of that place where I accept what I can do now, and then strive to do it as beautifully and as heart-felt as possible.

For a performance last fall, I was able to approach it as offering others a gift of music I love, on an instrument I love, however simply I was able to play it. I don’t know what the magic was, that the judging voice in my head that preaches “You should be able to do more, you should  be farther along than this, you should be able to play better,” was silenced. And the performance went well. I played with confidence and ease, even with a critically needed F-lever on my harp splitting in half just hours before I played.

Next Saturday I’m playing for an hour at a book sale to benefit our public library. It’s an audio wallpaper gig, where everyone is engaged in doing something else and I’m hanging out with my harp, creating ambiance. It’s the kind of public playing I can do, and according to more than one harp teacher who’s seen my hands shake as I play for others, the perfect prescription for overcoming performance anxiety and nerves.

And so, I’m reminding myself that I know simple arrangements of beautiful tunes that I love to play, and I want to play them for others. On Saturday, I promise myself, and whoever reads this post, that I will think only about what I can do, and share the music that I can play, with joy, and love, and gratitude.