I kind of decided enough was enough tonight. It’s not worth the pain. It’s not sensible or necessary. So then I really, seriously thought about the possibility of quitting. No more. Zip.
Then I thought, do I have a reason to be a cellist? Or to continue being one? An answer wasn’t immediately coming to mind. I guess I don’t really think deeply about that question. I just kind of do it. Maybe moreso in my old age? But I think I couldn’t even begin to address that question when I was younger and more naive. Life has given me some wherewithal to engage in productive contemplation.
So the meat of this thought process was occurring during the Brahms first piano concerto, with Grimaud and Andrey.
You see, last night’s concert found me in a different place at that moment. I was absolutely connected, in a semi state of nirvana, musically. I was in my typical state of discomfort cellistically, but I was soaking every bit of the Brahms into my pores. I don’t know if that gave me something in particular to draw on tonight. But I had been thinking this week about how I have spent much of my life as a listener to music, with the week’s program of the Brahms and the Schumann 4th Symphony as two of my favorites for cranking on the stereo. During the parts of the Brahms that the cellos rest, I was able to go into that state of immersion that I do when I listen off stage. I actually meditated to exactly that slow movement when I was in high school, during lunch period I think. I would lie down on the grass out in front with my walkman, and let Ashkenazy’s endless lines wash over me.
I wondered if the reason I am in this field is actually an extension of my love of listening to beautiful music, not really because I adore participating in its creation. This love has many physical and emotional side effects, mostly positive, but some negative, and I have frequently wondered if they are always an asset for the purpose of performing. Tonight I may have found a way through that question. It’s about passion. Finding my true passionate nature. It seems to be possible that my passion for letting music wash through me in fact touches a different part of my soul than the art of playing.
At the moment when these ideas streamed through my consciousness, something changed. It’s ironic, because the thought of quitting opened up something in myself that was trapped when I was supposedly sustaining my level of dedication, feeling I would never quit.
I have been trying to raise the bar on my overall level of well-being and happiness. Tonight was one of those nights where I felt the price was too high. The pain outweighed the pleasure. It’s possible that having now experienced the musical differentiation described here, I may find a way to live in tenuous balance with this art and craft.