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.