I was taught to conduct with love. Not mere passion, or devotion, or care: love. To treat each piece with tenderness and respect; to know it deeply and truly; to let my body tell its story honestly. This understanding was the culmination of all of my training as a musician. I finally understood what I was trying to reach for all these years.
In the moments when 3 measures would overwhelm me to tears but I didn’t know why, it was love.
In the darkest, loneliest hours that somehow turned to be the sweetest, most fulfilling nights, it was love.
In all of my striving for excellence, and courage, and discipline: it was love.
I can’t create real music if I am not in love with it. And I can’t love music without being overwhelmed with the desire to create it.
I left for my next university clinging to this new love, leaving all of its beautiful stepping stones carelessly discarded by circumstances beyond my control. I held on to a single intact shred, torn and beaten by sudden adulthood. I tried to water & nourish it with what I knew: more knowledge.
More classes, seminars, teachers, challenges, and technical tricks would grow this love.
But that isn’t what I want. These people want to be good just to be good, just to be better than someone else. Their music is just notes on a page, a checklist of tones and timbres. I don’t feel anything when I sing with these people, or talk to them about music. The conductors are all methods and equations; they fail to see their choir as human, and forget that what they feel is more important than their lofty title or reputation.
There is no love, even as they sing the very word. I listen to the spirit of these beautiful pieces being slaughtered on stage, uncaring, unfeeling, brainwashed note-producers.
Egos in tuxes.
It was over. I knew everything was wrong and that I would not find what I was looking for. I dropped my classes, and fell into despair over my lost love.
I had a birthday that month and entered my twenties.
It felt so small.
I felt so small.
Suddenly I realized that I was, indeed, very small. And also, how absolutely wonderful that was.
My goal for so long was to be in graduate school by 21, and I was well on my way. But why did I want that? To say that I could? To show up my exes and the nay-sayers of my past? I have been living this shabby version of faked adulthood for a year, and I clearly was not ready for it. I was spending tens of thousands of dollars on an education that I did not even want any more. I know what I am looking for. I found it. It’s done, selected, chosen. Even if I never find it again, I will never settle for less. Nothing less than unabashed, complete love.
But I think I will find it again. Maybe in school later, or a career, or a big ole PhD. Or in my future childrens’ giggles and hugs. In supporting my husband’s wildly lofty dreams. In quiet mornings and poems that no one will read. Maybe I will be a conductor, and paint stories with a group of beautiful voices.
Wherever it is, I will not settle for stale, or arrogant, or purposeless. I will not do it because I am the correct age, or sex, or class. I will unabashedly love, with my fingertips & pen marks & songs. Yeah, I dropped out of college. And I did it for love.