Sunday, January 31, 2010

my one wild and precious life

Tell me, what is your plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

- Mary Oliver, from "The Summer Day"

I have still been feeling the winter blahs lately. The temperatures dropped this week and we were flung back into the throes of a normal Minnesota winter. I have to remind myself in just one month it will be March, the month when spring begins to unfold.

Out of boredom, or maybe desperation, I went to the library one day and ended up browsing the aisle that contains "religion", "psychology", "self help", "nature", and "auto repair". It is, after all, a small library. I ended up with a self help book written by an architect. Really. Sarah Susanka, of "The Not So Big House" fame, has a book entitled "The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters". Of course I have been living the experience of building the "not so big house" for a while now, and I have learned a lot about interior design from her books. And who says you have to have a degree in psychology to write a self help book anyway? It's been done.

I'm about halfway through, and while I enjoy the architectural perspective, I realize it is just another self help book. And I realize that my life is not so big to begin with, compared with the examples. But like any good self help book it has gotten me to think about my life. In one chapter there is an exercise that asks the reader to "recall any situations where Providence moved to create the perfect conditions for your own exploration or pursuit of an interest or passion." For some reason I thought of something I had never considered before.

When I was in sixth grade, nearing my twelfth birthday, I played the violin. I was doing okay, pretty good really, but for some reason it just didn't excite me. Then one day, I don't know how or where I came up with the idea, but suddenly I just knew: I wanted to play the flute. What's more, I knew I was going to do it. My conviction must have impressed my mom, who went so far as to speak with the coordinator of musical education for the school district. After all, they needed all the violinists they could get and flutists were a dime a dozen. But I ended up learning the flute, even accompanying the church junior choir and playing a solo on Easter Sunday, barely six weeks after I started!

So where has the flute taken me? I only wish that passion and confidence had stayed with me, that I had dared to dream I could be...a flautist. But then again, I would not be here in this life I know, so let's not even go there with the "what if's". But I still have the passion for music, and it's been showing itself more often in the last year or so. What if I could still invite that passion to move me to action, to make my life more about music?

Then yesterday I was tagged in a Facebook note by my dear blogging/FB friend Jim. He asked to respond to the question "What are my plans for living my one wild and precious life?" (See the Mary Oliver quote above)

My plans? Have I ever had any? It seems I've just been rolling along with the flow. I like a lot of things about where the flow has taken me, but what if I had the courage to make plans? I know, nothing makes God laugh more than humans making plans. But somehow, and this is going to sound incredibly stupid, I never realized I had the choice to make things happen and live my dreams.

So my plans? Practice. More practice. Make a commitment to play music with others. Print a business card: "Musician". Write those songs I've been meaning to write. Sing whenever the mood hits me. Join in. Play flute under the bridge even when there are canoeists within earshot. ;) I knew it when I was not yet twelve. I've been ignoring it for way too long. I plan to be a musician. Well, I already am, but I mean even MORE of a musician. One who actually is heard in public.

I have been having some incredible times with the flute lately. I'm reeling on the reels, and jigging with the jigs. Not that I'm ignoring the other instruments; the guitar was out of its case for a while, as was my singing voice. Both were fairly in tune for having been ignored so long!


Jayne said...

It's amazing how easy it is to be lulled into our routine lives and just live day to day with no thought to things like this. Thanks for sharing a part of your journey Deb. I am at a point in my life where I am looking at things like this too, and realizing that my life is whatever I choose to make it. I am still not sure what that will be, but at least I am on the path to wanting to reach out for more. Blessings to you, my musician friend.

Jim said...

I'm so glad you responded to my tag Deb!

There is so much to be done in life, so many responsibilities to meet, that we often sacrifice what we want to do for what we feel we need to do.

But if we're going to be able to truly give of ourselves, we need to nurture who we are as individuals too, to enrich the gifts we each bring to the world.

You do amazing things in my book, and playing music is one of them.

It's part of who you are and obviously brings joy to your life, which brings joy to others...

webb said...

Yesterday I attended a free concert in Naples, Florida given by a volunteer concert band. It was excellent, but best of all every musician was there because s/he wanted to play. I suspect Naples is a bit more urban than where you live, but look around. I bet somewhere in your w i d e r area there is a group that would embrace you and your flute. Good luck!

Madcap said...

I love Susanka's books, but not-so-big is definitely a relative term when you look at the "cottages" and "modest bungalows" they feature!

Your flute story is beautiful.

troutbirder said...

Interesting blog with a great attitude. Visiting from Ruthie's blog in Bluff Country.

MojoMan said...

Another great thought-provoking post, Deb.

I think one of the best things blogging has done for me is to lead me to quiet contemplation about the dreams of my youth and how important it can be to remember those dreams and act on them. (Before it's too late?) See my "Bliss Hill Journal" to see tangible results.

We all know the story of the guy on his deathbed who said: "I only wish I'd spent more time at the office."

Deb said...

Jayne- Best wishes in your journey, friend. And I'm so happy you're singing in the choir!

Jim- Thank you. I feel that your tag, and my finding that book in the library were conspiring together on me. :)

webb- In a place I used to live, I had the opportunity to play with a community orchestra- a wonderful group of musicians who really loved what they were doing. These days I am a bit more geographically challenged, but I have plans to drive sixty miles one way on a Thursday night and join a Celtic jam- should be fun!

Madcap- Yes I know, there just isn't space in my "not so big" house for all the nooks and crannies she suggests! I suspect her firm doesn't do affordable housing much...

Troutbirder- Thank you for visiting! I hope to spend more time in your part of the a matter of fact, I may be spending some time in Lanesboro next fall for some work related training.

MojoMan- I had not seen "Bliss Hill Journal" until now- congratulations! Looking forward to hearing more about your piece of land.