A Personal Story

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This kind of a post is difficult for me to write. I like to keep the blog upbeat but today, I want to talk about something personal. It’s hard because its not about healing, it’s not about design decisions, and it’s not about gear. It’s about me. Enter at your own risk.

January has been a difficult month for me. I’ve made a lot of changes in both my WoW life and RL, and much of it is the result of things that have been building up for the last six months.

Six months ago, I made what was one of the biggest decisions in my life. I decided to walk away from a field and specialisation that I was well qualified in to take up piano full-time. It sounds a little bit like something I’d expect to happen in Paris or something romantic. But it really just was me making a decision to do what I love and accepting the risks and consequences that came with it. I started a blog because I felt that documenting a journey was far more interesting than updating a repertoire list.

Today, I’m dealing with one of the consequences of that choice in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Every profession has their challenges and advantages, and it’s really up to the person to see if they can handle it or not. In that sense, me being a pianist is no different. But I’ve found that in six months of doing music 24/7, it has changed a lot of who I am in unexpected ways, and it’s scary.

Some of the things are just little things that have slowly crept up on me. My arms have got stronger and so have my fingers. My fingers in general can now stretch to abnormal degrees, that would normally freak people out if they saw it. My ears have grown more sensitive – almost to an extreme degree now. I used to just be sensitive to loud noises (like construction, drilling, ambulances) – but now they have a physical effect on me. They disorient me and frighten me to a point that the one time they were renovating the apartment next door, I found myself hiding in my closet from the noise. I’ve got some noise cancelling headphones since. Other times, it’s just me hearing a car alarm 4 blocks away and figuring out the note – or unintentionally picking up on the neighbour’s vacuum cleaner and transposing a piece to that pitch. Why can I hear these things that I don’t really want to?

Perhaps the hardest part though, is dealing with me and noone else. I never thought about it when I started out, but really my days are filled with just me and the piano and the four walls. And that’s begun to tell on me a little bit. The silence can sometimes be deafening, and there’s a very definite sense of loneliness. Day in and day out, I’ve been battling with myself because ultimately that’s partly what playing is – you try to play pieces, execute them, make it sound like it sounds in your head – and you fill it with your feelings to achieve all that.

A lot of times, it’s an uphill battle with yourself, trying to bring it all together. It’s physically and emotionally demanding and when you’re constantly alone in it, it gets even harder. Sometimes it feels like it distorts reality, while it chokes you on the inside. On some of the more difficult days, it’s just made me afraid that someone was over my shoulder and every little sound makes me jump.

This is not to say that doing what I do isn’t worth it – because to me it still is. It’s tough for me to admit to myself though, that I have these problems. When I reread the last two paragraphs it sounds so similar to the stereotypical crazy musicians movies show. And even though I know that it’s really not like that – inspiration doesn’t drop from the heavens and I have to be fairly disciplined rather than impulsive to do the practice I need – the changes in perception and mind are still a little scary to me.

And then ofcourse, are the other times when pain in my arms and hands can freak me out like no other. Sometimes it’s when I game too hard – other times, I don’t really know why. If it continues and/or keeps getting worse, I’m going to have to see someone about it. This fills me with unreasonable dread. I know it’s not rational, but there you have it. I’m partly worried that they’ll say I can’t raid or game anymore, and I’m terrified that they’ll say I can’t play piano anymore. I have about a week or two – and if what I’m doing doesn’t work, I’ll have to go see someone about it even though I’d really rather not.

Dealing with the physical and emotional demands of my profession, and with the loneliness it comes with is just something I have to figure out – and I began the New Year with making some changes to that effect. I finally bowed of the raid group I’ve been raiding with on the weekends – I simply wasn’t a good fit for the team. I took the opportunity to reschedule my practice hours on days when hubby would be home, to help deal  with working alone. I’m trying to be better about warming up before playing so I don’t hurt my arms. Emotionally is another story.

I’m sorry that the first post of the new year isn’t something more encouraging and happy – but I suppose the blog isn’t called “Happy Rainbows and Ponies” for a reason. Here I am, just as imperfect, flawed and fragile as anyone else – or maybe it really is just me, I don’t know.

I have no regrets about my decision to be a pianist, and I’m going to figure these problems somehow. Even if I’m going to be scared the entire way, which I assure you I am. It will be one of the harder things I’ve dealt with because dealing with yourself is always more complicated than dealing with deadlines for a paper or meeting.

The new year to me wasn’t about popping champagne and celebrating this time around – it was more just to be determined not to drown. And I’m okay with that.

Thanks for reading.

~ Saya

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9 thoughts on “A Personal Story

  1. Grats to you to be brave enough to follow your dream. That in and of itself is one of the bravest things a person can do in their life.

    I understand where you are coming from. I work from home and it can feel like the walls are closing in sometimes. We are social animals and need that interaction. Maybe you can pick a time of day to visit a local coffee or tea shop. Read the paper and be social. Join a club of some sort. Running/book/hobby, something that you are interested in and can meet other like minded people. And of course wow can be a very social game if you want it to be. I often equate to wow as being my time in a Cheers style of pub. Just where i can sit and chat with like minded people about silly stuff.

    Good luck to you, don’t isolate yourself if you don’t have to. I’m sure there are lot of fun people out there who would enjoy your company. Enjoying your blog.

    • Thanks so much for commenting, and for the advice. I’ve been looking into the local community clubs and I think I’ll be trying out the yoga club soon. It seems to be a good way to get out and maintain my physical fitness for piano while also meeting new people.

      I might also join a purely social guild on one of my non-raiding alts – it’s something I’ve never done before in WoW but I think it would be great if I can log on to chat and hang out and not necessarily work towards gear and raiding all the time.

  2. One of my greatest regrets has been not continuing to play the violin when I was younger. I think I would’ve gradually evolved into a cello player or something. I wish I could say that I understand what you’re going through as a musician. The best I can offer is an internet fist bump and support to you and what you’re doing. You’ve got something going for you in the sense that you know what you want to do and (more importantly) you’re doing it. I know of people who still haven’t a clue what their place is or what they want to engage in.

    Also, can you play Clair de Lune?

    • Thanks for the support! :) As for Clair de Lune, I haven’t really picked it up and worked on it yet. I did do Reverie by Debussy a long time ago. Difficulty-wise, Clair de Lune isn’t as challenging for me as some of the other pieces I’m working on – so it’s certainly doable in a month or two if I picked it up and started practising.

      It’s such a beautiful piece – maybe I will get started on it. :)

  3. Not every day can be a happy go lucky day, nor every blog post. Life can’t always be gumdrops and rainbows… and no one can be expected to be perfect, or present only a perfect face to the world. It’s okay, Saya, and thank you for sharing your difficulties. I don’t think there’s any fault to be found in any of what you shared. In fact, I have great respect for those people who can hold through their hardest times and trials and come out the other side – it’s a quality I admire and aspire to.

    My heart goes out to you. Stay strong, you can do it. Follow your dream and knock the baddies out of the ring as they come to you. *hugs*

    • Thank you Kuu. I’ve really begun to think that challenges and obstacles aren’t ever overcome in a vacuum – there are always friends and people behind you who support and cheer you on. Sharing my difficulties wasn’t easy but I’m glad I did. Awesome people like you make the challenges easier to deal with.

  4. It’s amazing. I admire you for following your dream, and then sharing when things aren’t as picture perfect as one would think. Thoughts are with you Saya, I hope it works out! And I listened to your Souncloud songs and they are beautiful, no wonder you wanted to do it.

      • There is something beautiful and flawed in all artists irrespective of what form of art they pursue. My wife goes through many of the same internal struggles that you do so I understand the fragility that comes as part of the territory. While I’m still what you would consider a very “new” reader to your blog, I salute you for having a dream and daring to pursue it. I can only hope that the internal and external issues you face abate and allow you to realize your true potential, whatever that potential is.

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