Sometimes the term, “watershed” is used to describe a moment when things “before” and “after” are markedly different: water shedding in different directions. In hindsight, it feels to me like this “watershed moment” has been coming on for some time, a long time it seems. Without going into detail, it’s more of a holding than anything else for me which then manifests itself in all kinds of outer events, actions and ideas: like downscaling Christmas from a huge extravaganza to a very modest (almost nonexistent) one.
For whatever reason, I have begun to understand that I wanted to compensate for shortcomings that occurred (for all of us in one way or another) in my childhood or young adult life. Neither of my parents was around much in spirit even when they were present, and I think that I took that ball and ran with it with my own daughters. Whatever my parents didn’t care about nor did for me, I did for my kids. In spades. Now that I am still active but moving a bit slower, I’ve taken stock and it seems it’s time for me to discard that mode and live a much simpler life.
That doesn’t mean that I’m bored or unhappy. It just means that so much of the energy, time and resources that I have applied to “helping” my kids is probably too much both for their sakes and especially for mine. I want to live simpler and formulate a routine that gets me outside to take walks when the weather permits, to clean up the garden and to tend the many plants that have suffered through a Darwinian phase (“survival of the fittest”,) which, laughably is what I think I am doing for myself right now (to survive as fit as I can.)
I’ve already begun last week to cull through my vast music library of CDs, reorganizing them by pianist (Richter, Argerich, Hewitt, Lewis, Gould, Pires, Tureck, Haskil) and by composer (Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky) and listening a LOT to music that I have known so well growing up and which I got away from listening. For example, I remember listening to Khachaturian violin concerto and Shostakovitch 5th Symphony a lot when I was in high school. Now, I play my favorite music aloud on speakers, or use earphones during football games on TV. Talk about multi-tasking: I still manage the remote for the ads that come on the Patriots game while listening to Schumann or Scriabin via the earphones in my head. A little disorienting but not bad.
More than ever, I feel that music is truly the great mover that endlessly nourishes the spirit. No matter if one is rich or poor, with someone or living alone, there is nothing like music to elevate mood, enrich perspective and to just keep company with us, each and every day. A pianist who had dinner with us on Saturday suggested some early recordings by Sviatislav Richter (Rachmaninoff 2nd piano concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Brahms 2nd with Erich Leinsdorf.) I loved listening to them–thanks to I-Tunes. The technology of being able to search I-Tunes, purchase recordings, copy them to a playlist is so facile it amazes me. I had the Leon Fleisher Brahms recordings but have now added these two Richter recordings to my music library–what a revelation they were! He uses pedal a lot in his Bach recordings and I also listened for the first time to some Brahms sonatas he recorded that I’m unfamiliar with.
In parallel, I’m experimenting with a piano list to practice and learn new pieces, an idea to practice a new program every 3-6 months, or maybe in a year’s time. Although a little arthritis is showing up in my left hand, the rest of me, especially my brain and ear, still seem to be intact, at least, most of the time.
Anyhow, this is a monumental watershed for me in the beginning of December, a time, when I’m usually projecting to spend DAYS preparing for the holidays. Now, whatever happens, happens. I feel a little sad to give it all up, but not as sad as I might have expected. And I have discovered that honesty compensates for all the things I thought I had to do to make other people happy.
Now, I can let them find their way while I follow my own path “not taken” as much as I might have up to now.
A new day. A fresh start. Let’s see what little leaves grow from last year’s box of Joy.