Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Facing Uncertainty

I find myself unsure of how to assess myself, how to "rate" where I am in life. By many accounts I'm doing just fine, even doing exceptionally well! I'm co-running a small but worthwhile arts non-profit, I have ample work (too much work, even), things are good.

Except when it comes to my actual relationship with music. I don't practice anymore. Honestly, the main reason is because I just don't have time. Each day is a marathon - get up early, barely make it out the door in time, race around all day going from obligation to obligation, and come crashing into bed just in time to get almost a good night's sleep before doing it again. I don't have any time left in my schedule to devote to practicing, certainly not practicing regularly. When is my next performance? April, maybe. Maybe.

Every once in a while I have a little time to play. I practiced for 20 minutes on Monday, it had been probably close to a month since I last took my flute out of its case, well over a month since the time before that. Part of me feels like I should just become one of those people who "used" to play an instrument, who "used" to be a musician - I'm halfway there already. Even as I type this though, it hurts, it really causes me pain.

I see people I used to perform with, I used to dream of becoming when I "grew up," and all I see is the unattainable. Even the times I've been able to play, to perform, it's been a whirlwind of stress and worry instead of medicine for my soul. I would love to play again, to feel the deep personal satisfaction of making something beautiful, and doing it well. I just don't know how I'm supposed to get back that joy, how to light that fire.

When I daydream of starting it back up again, my brain immediate comes up with grandiose ideas that sound great to my dreamer self, but don't meet the standards of my pragmatic side. The thought of practicing once a week, let alone everyday is realistically nothing more than a chore. It's another thing that I have to do, otherwise I've failed and fallen behind. It's almost easier to just push it down and forget about it than to try and remedy the situation.

It's easy to say "Just play for fun! Just throw a recital together! Just find a little gig here or there!" Playing isn't really fun if it comes at the expense of not doing something else that's realistically more important or time sensitive. As a professional musician and someone who runs a performing arts organization, "throwing something together" only works if the end product is really great, which it can't be if you don't have the time to amply prepare. I can't just take little gigs here or there if I don't have the time of day to go to the gig!

It's funny how I picked the moniker "The Balanced Flutist," and balance seems to be the most elusive thing in my life. It's not that my life is bad. It's not that I don't have tons of amazing things going on - I do. I just keep finding myself in situations where I've gone too far to one side, where one part of my life is sucking the life out of the rest of me.

Time to re-evaluate a few things, rebalance my life.


  1. Balance is really hard to achieve especially if we have a lot of things to do. Our priorities will mainly focus on what needs to get done and most of the time it's WORK.

    I agree with you that we need to re-evaluate things and see where we can insert that "practice session". It's a hard work. And believing that we can achieve it by changing habits and giving it TIME can change the way how you see things and definitely will change the way to play the game.

    1. Just seeing your comment - Lots of truth in what you wrote!