Tuesday, February 1, 2011
RMD #6: KEEPING PERSPECTIVE
And yet again, it has been a while. Since the last time I updated, I have:
* Lost my main source of income due to parish consolidation.
* Recorded my album in Nashville under extreme stress with a pinched nerve causing my left pinky and ring finger to periodically go numb.
* Interviewed for a position at another parish.
* Agreed to teach additional university classes at the last minute.
* Agreed to accompany chorus rehearsals for a local opera production.
* Taken a bank loan against my car to bridge the 7-week gap from the beginning of the semester to my first paycheck.
* Unexpectedly auditioned for the parish I interviewed with a month earlier. (I had assumed by then that they had gone with someone else.) Got hired!
* Taken on accompanying duties at the college I was teaching.
* Completely rearranged my schedule to accommodate everything I was doing, often working 14-15 hour days.
* Had my mother in the hospital for a staph infection in her right arm.
* Contracted a staph infection of my own in my right hand the day before I was to record more tracks for the album.
* Played the church services the next day completely left-handed because I could not get a substitute. My right hand was in a sling.
* Redoing my musical ministry plans and my class plans to account for the inability to write, drive, or play piano for a week. (Thank God I put an “omnibus clause” in the syllabus…)
* Converted my garage into an office/rehearsal studio… Something I had been planning for years!
That is a bare-bones list of the crazy sh*t that has been happening for the past few months on top of everything else that is already a regular part of my schedule. I’m not even going to get into the complicating and extenuating circumstances that surround everything. All I will say is that if I laid everything out, the only logical response would be “Your life is like that?”
Indeed, it is… and in the grand scheme of things, I am damn lucky. Certain things did not work out to my favor and I’m sure I disappointed or pissed off a number of people. After the various transforming and completely life-changing WTF** moments that have happened in my life up to this point, I make it a priority not to let myself get any more than mildly-annoyed over something that is ultimately meaningless.
(**For the internet-impaired, WTF stands for “What the f*ck?!”)
Take my father. He’s constantly getting on my nerves and meddling in my business all the time. ALL the time. My siblings and I all have stories. My mother - who has been married to him for almost 40 years - has even more! This man has eight children. He lost two of them - twin autistic sons - in two separate house fires, 22 years apart. In the past five years, he has buried a brother, a sister, an aunt, and two of his best friends. This man has also gone through several diabetic emergencies, renal failure, macular degeneration, prostate cancer, gall bladder surgery, and a quadruple bypass. Okay… So, I suppose he’s entitled to be cranky…
My father also paid for my grand piano, opened up his home to several young people who needed a roof, built computers for dozens of people, and had no qualms about opening up his pocketbook to buy food and water for his track team. Considering that I have friends whose fathers either beat the sh*t out of their mothers or ripped them off by running up $20000 of credit card debt in their names… I think I’ll keep my cranky, meddling, aggravating father, thank you very much.
Besides… He’s fun to tease on Facebook!
This is in no way meant to belittle the feelings of others or to excuse sloppiness or mediocrity. Given past events with repercussions that reverberate through every area of my life, I can’t justify allowing myself to get angry over something whose meaning may last five minutes. So, I botch up a piece in front of an audience? Yes, I’ll be irked and likely angry with myself… and at the same time, I have to get over it. I have spent enough of my life in times of high stress, much of which did nothing to further me in any way. I cannot afford to let my blood pressure rise because someone slights me or my bass player lost his place during a piece in the concert. What hurts more? Paying $666 in medical expenses… or possibly losing my right pinky and ring finger to a staph infection? Yes, dropping $666 hurts, but having only three fingers on the right hand would probably be more incapacitating to a pianist.
Then again… Maybe I should be careful what I say, less I rankle the nerves of my late choir director from Florida A&M University…Dr. Hobbs in Jet Magazine...
That said, even with all the crazy stuff happening in my life - both good and bad - I have to say that I am extremely lucky… or blessed. In the end, I have a job I like with people I like in a field I like; I come home to a family that loves me; I am writing this from the desk in my home office; and I have more freedom to devote to my craft that many of my friends would kill for. I have more opportunities than I imagined and after scrambling around for months on end, the time to finally focus.
That said… Dr. Hobbs, please don’t haunt me.
Take care, Everyone!
T. Kareem Powell 2/1/11