_ Before my friend Johnathan left for New York City, he invited us to church service at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, where he sang in the choir from time to time. We thoroughly enjoyed it – so much that we continued to attend. This past Sunday, the sermon was based on a passage in the book of Esther, and it was so amazing.
The passage described how King Xerxes was entertaining his drunken male dinner guests, and eventually called in his wife, Vashti, to come so that her beauty could be seen for all of the guests. On the surface, this didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Xerxes was treating is wife like another one of the concubines, instead of royalty! Instead of asking her to do something queenly, he was asking her to do something questionable, and Vashti refused. Because she told the king “I’m not coming”, she was eventually dethroned and replaced by Esther. When the minister read this, I wasn’t quite sure where she was going with it, because this could have easily been a “wives, you need to obey your husbands or bad things will happen to you” sermon, but it wasn’t at all. It focused more around “identity vs. reality”, and knowing what actions to take based on the balance between the two.
As musicians, we often times have to consider our identity versus our reality. My personal identity, of course, is bassoonist. My reality about 40 hours a week, though, is office assistant. When we balance the different aspects of our lives, we have to constantly remember that reality constantly changes, but identity is forever. Queen Vashti’s identity was royalty, and she was not willing to make her reality concubine, even for her husband. What she did cost her in the end, but she stuck to what she felt was right, which made way for greater things to happen. When we lose that audition, or don’t get the job interview, I think we need to realize that great things can’t be given to us if we’re holding on to things that are just “good”. If Vashti hadn’t been dethroned, Esther wouldn’t have been queen. If Esther wouldn’t have been queen, she would not have had the opportunity to save the lives of the Jewish race under Haman’s anger. If Haman had assassinated the Jewish race as he planned to do, there would have been no Jesus!
As I go through this week, I’m going to look even deeper into every single experience I come across, and consider both my identity vs. reality, and also the bigger role a small decision could serve not only for me, but for anyone! As always, I’ll continue to be a queen, and not just questionable.
Since I’ve been back things have been pretty cray cray, and very almost overwhelmingly busy. As well as recording a CD with the Memphis Repertory Orchestra, including Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, and participating in lab orchestras for local conducting workshops, I’ve started two part time jobs – one in the recruitment and staffing office of Memphis City Schools and the other as a taxi dispatcher. The two jobs can be a little mindless, but I thoroughly enjoy both working in education and customer service, so the jobs will fit me well this summer. There are also auditions to prep for (including a 1-year opening with the Memphis Symphony), and the start of my time with the Detroit Symphony. Needless to say, this bitch is busy, but I’ve still managed to hang out with friends, go to some local events, and even gain a few pounds (I’ll be taking care of that…starting Monday). What I’ve found to be the key to juggling this post-collegiate lifestyle is to not try to keep everything separate, but relate everything to one another, mixing the different attributes to create new ideas and to keep my sane – just like a well-mixed drink.
Unless you’re privileged enough to have come from money or win the lotto, most musicians have some sort of “day gig” to stay afloat, especially during the summer off season. In an effort to do this (and to keep myself professional and mentally stimulated) I searched and searched for work until I landed the positions I have now. I’m sure many would say that the time should be spent practicing and making reeds, but being spread a little thin can be a good thing. Many of my friends say that the best papers are the ones they started at the last minute, and the same idea is sort of at play here. I’m not putting the bassoon on the back burner by any means, but having deadlines, projects, and tasks all around me has helped make my practice a little less “fluffy” and more efficient. When I’m playing my bassoon, I’m developing something about my playing at all times, instead of just going through the motions. I may not be on the instrument for 6 hours a day like I used to be, but I think I’m getting things done.
All work and no play makes Garrett, well, rather jagged, I’ll say, so it’s always important to be involved in fun. Memphis Black Gay Pride was a blast, as well as the various block parties and bar nights we’ve gotten ourselves into. People are more interested in classical music that you may think, and the bassoon has proven to stimulate some interesting conversations in social environments. I’ve also had the pleasure of hanging out with a group of Spaniards who work with Andy, and learning more about my birthplace is always amazing. I was invited by these folks to a painting party a few weeks back, where I was able to mix my ideas behind music with the art of painting. It’s amazing how similar painting time and painting a canvas can be, and I’d encourage all musicians to try it sometime. My painting (which is pictured below) was inspired by a Spanish cocktail I learned about, called a calimocho, which is a mix of red wine and coke.
As you explore and enjoy your summer, mix the different parts of your life, instead of trying to juggle them around separately. There’s a whole issue I could delve into behind that idea, but I think I make my point on that clear often enough (if you know what I’m saying). See what you can create when you mix things together, whether it’s new friends, new passions, or even a great cocktail!