Until a few days ago, when I heard sirens from an ambulance or car, I got a panicking feeling. Such loud, obtrusive sounds came from speeding vehicles. I always thought to myself, "Something bad must have happened."
A few days ago in my geology class, we watched a video about the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011. It was heartbreaking to watch, as one can imagine. With family in South Korea, it was very real and scary at the time to see what might happen to a place full of history, people, and memories. Fortunately, Korea was okay, but at Japan's expense. The images from the video and news clips were very heavy.
They showed a particular scene where they dropped of people to go looking for survivors. They had to look and touch everything in this big pile of rubble and mess to see if a person had been buried underneath it or the sand/mud. They picked up personal items for people like baby photos and wallets and anything they could find to help link people back together and give them an identity.
In one interview with a Japanese woman, she said that when she heard sirens, it was a signal of hope that there was someone alive who might find her. She ended up being rescued and she said the sirens sounded like music to her ear. I kept thinking about this statement because I always experience such negative feelings from hearing sirens.
Today, I was out to dinner and a man bumped into me and moments later, he fell to the ground. He hit his head very hard on the floor of the restaurant. He could have been drinking but he collapsed in a way that made me think that it wasn't alcohol. He laid on the floor for what seemed like several seconds before anyone seemed to notice. A few years ago, I watched two of my friend get hit by a car and time was impossible to tell because I heard things different from when I saw them happen. In reality, people probably helped this man immediately as they saw him faint. One person looked like they called the ambulance. They shouted and said, "Who was this man with?" and people calmly came over and helped him up. No one else in the restaurant seemed to even notice that this man had fallen down. I started thinking about who cared about this man and where the person who loved this man the most was. Was she even there? Was she his wife? Was she not his wife?
He eventually sat up and the party I was with decided it would be best to leave it up to the people now taking care of him to help him. The manager of the restaurant was there now. As we were leaving, I wondered if the man was actually okay and if the other man had actually called the ambulance. What if something had actually happened and he needed to see someone right away? Once we were outside, I heard the ambulance coming.
The sound of the ambulance sounded comforting. This man was going to receive proper medical attention and he would be safe rather than sorry.
Just a little bit ago, I stumbled across a man's blog who wrote about the struggles of watching someone he loves recover from an unknown health issue. He quotes, "As always, it is humbling to observe his moving forward to something that we can only hope for at the moment."
I guess I'm writing this post because I have been struggling with my last video for my video concerto. I had this idea that optimism might be something better than reality. But after learning about the Japanese woman's story, hoping this man receives some care, and reading this blog, optimism can come in the darkest moments and in the strangest of ways. Little by little, the colors of this world invade the darkness with light. And with that, I am off to shoot the rest of my video.
"So are you glad your recital's over, Dr. Kruse?" my dear friend Mike asked.
She performed incredibly difficult music and sounded so wonderful. As a teacher myself, I know how stressful teaching can seem at times and trying to prepare my own recital is incredibly overwhelming on top of everything else university has for me. During her recital, I did much self reflection (as I often do at recitals) and I just thought to myself, "Thank God my recital is almost here." Some days I feel like I'm going to be ready but most of the time, I try to prepare for things that might go wrong. As Mike asked this question, I told myself, "I can't wait for my recital to be over." My whole perception changed with Dr. Kruse's response.
"You know, I just try to keep this quote in mind: 'Don't wish your life away!' " she replied.
She went on to describe that if we wish things to be done and finished, we won't be able to enjoy the process and time we have with it.
I have been thinking about this all week and have tried to apply it to everything going on. "I can't wait to graduate, I wish my recital was already finished, I can't wait until Christmas break!" I think these things quite often, usually in busy bitterness. But. I have been thinking much more positively since Dr. Kruse's kind reminder.
In light of my recital, it will most likely be my last chance to perform for my friends around me and my family. I have been practicing with the thought of "don't let anyone down, Shannon." Seventeen years is a very long time to be playing violin and then have the ending result be a flop. I tend to bog myself down with these pressures, but what are they really doing for me? They're motivating yes, but they also cause a pinch of misery. What if something does go terribly wrong? I know what it's like to sit in the audience when the performer still needs a lot of work. Is my main motivation to make my audience not feel awkward?
Let me go back to this question: What if something goes wrong?
This is the question that makes me wish my recital was already over. This is what the determining factor will be when my friends will ask me if I am happy it's over. Of course I will be happy when it's over. The mistakes will be in the past. But I will also appreciate the time I have and make sure the journey is enjoyable for me too, with or without mistakes. When I worked at Interlochen last summer, I saw a bassist perform a concerto with one of the orchestras. She was so delightful to watch because she looked like she was having a lot of fun playing. A friend and mentor of mine leaned over and said, "I think it's so attractive when performers perform like this."
Since then, I have had more of a motivation in preparing for my recital and have had more joy in doing so. I am playing some pretty fun stuff after all! My teacher in London told me that when students know they are doing well, they get a certain smile.
I hope that my excitement grows in the next few weeks and instead of thinking "I'm looking forward to my recital being over," I'll say, "I'm looking forward to my recital." And then I'll end with a smile.