Who what why

It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve performed and that feels like an eternity.

To be fair, the longest period I’ve gone without a concert was 3 1/2 weeks last August (which felt really glorious then!), but somehow it feels different now. Not working for long periods of time makes me feel untethered.

I think that as musicians, much more that those in other professions, our identity becomes wrapped up in what we do. We self-identify as musicians, as if it were a culture, or a tribe. So when I’m not doing what I usually do – making music in front of a lot of people – that taut, intimate connection between what I do and who I am starts to loosen, unravel.

It’s the kind of feeling that could precipitate an existential crisis, and that’s not something I need on my plate right now. But it’s absolutely challenging to sit with the thought that the way I define my place in the world is by the connections to people I create through music. If I’m not actively forging those connections, what’s my purpose, and who am I?

I know that’s a huge questions and one that doesn’t lend itself to a pat answer. And in the past, that fact in itself would have discouraged me from continuing to explore both the feeling and the question. But now I find myself with time on my hands, with no ensemble and no audience, just my own determination to find a way to determine myself. So many of us stuck in our homes right now are grasping for some silver lining to the dark cloud of our situation, and perhaps this is mine – a pause, a moment to focus on being in a life that is all about doing.

How do you separate your doing and being?

My task for the day: take stock of everything in my pantry. My patient husband found an app for that. It took all morning but…done!

9 thoughts on “Who what why

  1. How do you separate your doing and being? It is not always obvious and sometimes it is like a thin red line. I try to compartmentalized what I do & who I am. For example watching pictures that I like (astronomy, northern lights, sunset,… helps me to contemplate and by doing so it does induce a kind of meditation). That helps me to make a cut with the job.

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  2. I have been working with kindergarten children since I was a sixth grader, volunteering to serve lunch up at Wilcox Hall once a week. It’s in my soul, it has been the subject of every bit of my schooling, all my degrees and licensure. So when I stumbled into photography years ago and subsequently started my own business as a side gig, I felt like such an imposter. How in the world could I call myself a photographer? I was a teacher, *pretending* to be a photographer.

    Then one day, some random person reached out to me and said they liked my photography work. It really threw me for a loop. I had work?? That had to be evidence that this was not just a pretend gig. I tried that word “photographer” on. It felt weird but good. I made myself a shirt with that word on it, in big sparkly letters and wore it proudly.

    Then I became a mom– another label. And at that point, I no longer felt like I had to fit myself into one box. Really, it wasn’t until I tried on lots of different shoes that I realized I never really had to connect my doing and being, as you so clearly put it. I could be myself, no matter what label I was wearing.

    I wonder… now that you’re without an orchestra and audience, is there something new that will catch your eye? If you had a blank t-shirt, what label would you put on it, in sparkly letters? Maybe this experience is the Universe, opening a teensy hole in your word so that you can peek through and see what else has been out there, while you’ve been so busy kicking butt on stage after stage. I love the idea of you trying on new things to see how they fit.
    xo

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    1. chefdorch says:

      Beautiful words, my friend, and just what I needed to hear. The blank t-shirt ready for some sparkly letters makes it visceral, real.

      And the app is Pantry Manager!

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  3. One more thing: your “task every day” approach has been so inspiring for me. I have felt adrift and it doesn’t help that every day is kind of melting into the next. The discrete tasks assigned to each day help break them up AND give me a sense of accomplishment. Brilliant! Thank you so much for the idea. (My task today is to get these goddam report card narratives written. Almost done!)

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  4. Everything I do needs to contribute to my well being; so I always need to connect my doing and my being… not to separate them. I believe most people do that, at least unconsciously… 😉

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