Unable to sleep, I looked out our bedroom window and watched the clouds racing by in the pre-dawn sky, Marley snoring gently at my feet. Puffy clouds on a mission as storms approached Birmingham, while the trees swayed and danced. It gave the illusion that our old house was a ship, sailing at a fast clip through choppy seas… Pretty much an analogy for what life feels like now.
I am waking up all through the night, my mind spinning and my stomach in a knot. The uncertainty, the barrage of terrible news; it weighs on all of us. The unknown is paralyzing, leaving me struggling to maintain normally ingrained routines. Mindless yard work and walking Marley are the only things that flow easily. It’s difficult to play my clarinet, as it only seems to remind me of all that has been lost, making me feel deeply sad. Clarinet has always brought such joy to me- it’s a part of the fabric of who I am- and this pandemic-induced fog leaves me feeling incomplete without music running its joyous thread through my days.
I wrote to my clarinet mentor’s wife, Louise Opperman, someone who is very dear to me. I told her about my difficulty in finding the heart to play and she gave me some good ‘tough love’, words that her husband Kal used to say, “That’s really understandable but think of Kal’s voice saying what he always said in the face of problems, “You have to grab it by the ass”. I remember it often. It’s been my propeller. Also, don’t forget “Next”. That one helps, too.” It was good for me to hear those words, remembering the brutal honesty and complete devotion of my amazing teacher. How I miss him.
In the midst of all the sadness, a ray of sunshine; Dan and I celebrated our sixteenth anniversary (seventeen years together) this weekend. I love that after all these years Dan remains romantic and sweet, always making me feel cherished. Thanks to the kindness of dear friends, we were able to enjoy a lovely socially distanced dinner at our favorite restaurant in Birmingham, Ocean. It was strange to have an evening out, especially one that felt almost normal…if I even remember what ‘normal’ is or was anymore.
I actually see the ship analogy from this morning as a very positive thing. Yes, we’re sailing through deep and dark waters, but we are moving forward. We have to do whatever it takes to make it to the other side. I have to keep hope- it is such a part of who I am inside and how I’ve made it through other tough times. I can choose not to be a victim in a world gone mad. I’m not saying it will be easy, but if I don’t try I will be drawn into the pervasive vortex of anxiety and anger that is swirling all around us. No thank you.
I’m keeping hope for smoother seas ahead…or at least for the courage to face it all with grace. There is always something beautiful and good around us if we can just look past the hardships and open our eyes to it. I’m trying my best to do just that.