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9:59 pm - Sat 4.23.2011
Playing My Instrument

Playing My Instrument

I haven't read the James Baldwin short story "Sonny's Blues", but an excerpt was in last month's issue of The Sun, as part of a feature called "The Dog-Eared Page".

I guess I liked it; already quoted one bit as a recent Facebook update:

For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn't any other tale to tell, it's the only light we've got in all this darkness.

I also liked this part:

I had never thought before of how awful the relationship must be between the musician and his instrument. He has to fill it, this instrument, with the breath of life, his own. He has to make it do what he wants it to do. And a piano is just a piano. It's made out of so much wood and wires and little hammers and big ones, and ivory. While there's only so much you can do with it, the only way to find out is to try; to try and make it do everything.

So what did I respond to in that?

The idea that the only way you can find out how much you can do with your "instrument" is "to try and make it do everything" made me feel guilty - I've never done that with any creative enterprise I've undertaken, be it drawing, playing an instrument, journaling, or performing.

Not even close.

Sun 4/24/11 (9:42 pm)

(Got back a few hours ago from Cary and Kay's place, where I spent most of the day.)

Chatting with Cary, I told him about, and we talked about, pretty much everything I've been thinking of writing in this Cary, if you're reading this, you may end up with a distinct sense of "deja vu".

Anyway, where was I...?

The bit from the Baldwin story got me because, while I'm not a musician or really any kind of "artist", I wish I were.

As I told Cary today, I see it as the "alternative life" I should be leading - Since clearly, a "normal life" is not in the cards - and as I'm writing this, it strikes me that one of the central dissatisfactions of my life is that I've always known, in my gut, that I wasn't doing my best to see what my "instrument" could do, in part because I've spent too much time mourning the "normal" life I didn't have instead of exploring fully the one I do.


Mon 4/25/11 (10:17 am)

About to head to the first session of my new Group, headed by Javier, my former therapist.

Feeling a little "first day of school" nerves.

Beyond that, there's the feeling of a potential "exit strategy" shaping up; if this Group works out, and I quit my current Group, that's a step toward freeing up my nights for theater (The other step being to let go of my Thursday night WW meeting...which I probably will not do until and unless theater obligations require it).

(6:30 pm)

Well, had my first meeting with the new Group this morning (from 11-12:30), and in about an hour, will be heading out for my regular Group (From 8-9:40).

So what did I think of the new group?

It's a small group - Javier has limited it to six people - and as I think I've said, it centers around "cognitive therapy" (Basically, working on the "dysfunctional thinking" that causes anxiety and stress and general upset, making us unhappy, and making our lives not work as well as they might).

I can't get into a lot of detail beyond that - cause what happens in the Group is supposed to be confidential - but this first session was more of a "getting to know you" session, and not a full-on "work" session.

The other five people are all substantially younger than I am (which troubled me a little, if I'm honest), and I had to tell myself to "give them a chance"; if they're not as "articulate" as I am about their problems, it's very possibly because they haven't spent most of their lives in therapy, reading self-help books, and journaling for 30 years.

Anyway, this promises to be more "work" than my current Group - Javier has promised there would be "homework" - and I left feeling a little nervous, because "I might actually have to do something here...!" (I'm pretty good at talking, since I've done it all my life. It's actually doing stuff that's my biggest challenge).

Speaking of "doing stuff"...

I told Cary yesterday about my desire to get back into theater - he thought that was a good idea - and I also brought it up today in the new Group. So apparently, I'm serious enough about it to start talking it up (and to write about it in here).

The obstacles to doing theater are basically gone now - I only work one night a week (My Thursday night WW meeting), and no longer have to worry about parking - so that being the case, you'd think I'd have rushed to get involved in theater months ago.

But now I have to get past "head stuff", as I called it when talking to Cary; the anxiety over having to prove myself to a new group of people, the fear that I've "lost a step" (Or two or three) since I last acted on stage, fear that I don't have the energy to do it, etc.

Which basically brings me back to the beginning of this entry - how do I know what the "instrument" can do, how do I make it do what I want, if I don't "try to make it do everything"?

And there's a voice inside I keep trying to ignore, saying, "You came out here to make acting your life, and now you're barely acting at all - What's up with that?".

Time to stop ignoring that voice. Time to start thinking of my life as my "instrument".

And it's time to start playing.


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