To describe how 2018 went for me, I need to describe 2017, which is a complete contrast. 2017 is what I refer to as my “Cinderella year.” It’s the year that so many amazing things came together that seemed impossible. After 24 years of working on and performing various versions of “Artaban, the Other Wise Man” I adapted the previous concert versions into a stage musical. Miraculously, I was able to pen lyrics and script, and complete a 240 page score, fund it, and secure a venue. We were an unknown, but the community came out to support it. We performed four nights and even raised money for a homeless charity in the process. The second night of performances, my dear, adopted Dad, David, passed away. I found out 15 minutes before showtime. As we closed the show for the year, I had to prepare for a private concert where the proceeds were donated to the same homeless charity. Once that was done, I had to refocus my emotions and energy to prepare to speak and perform two pieces at David’s funeral. After that I crashed hard.
January of 2018 I went full speed ahead in developing a soundtrack for the Wise Man production we intended to perform through the holidays later in the year. I found that my hearing declined. The biggest problem is still tinnitus, (ringing) which is severe. It actually causes problems creating dead places in my hearing because the frequencies in my head cancel out the frequencies I’m trying to listen to. A hearing test revealed my hearing loss was stable at 45% loss, and that if I would reduce my stress, tinnitus would most likely clear up. It didn’t. It has remained constant and intense with no variation. I’ve had tinnitus 24/7 since I was about 18 years old, but it has gotten gradually worse.
I took time to wallow and be depressed. I talked to my board and my creative team and decided I needed a long break to figure this out. So I immersed myself in headlines and family things and bailed completely on all social media. The first was not such a good idea, but the latter two proved to be grounding, and wonderful. I stopped composing and playing. I stopped writing. I took the year off in 2018 and with it came a underlying discouragement and negativity that I couldn’t seem to quite shake. Although I did come out of my depression by March, I now had so many justified reasons to blame a broken world for my underlying unhappiness. I became a poster child of being the victim of thinking my unhappiness could be blamed on the world.
As the year progressed to the final quarter, family members struggled with certain health issues. Two members face dire health situations. One so bad that by December we took an impromptu trip to Portland, Oregon to visit him in a surprise visit while in the hospital. We had no idea if he was going to live or die. We just didn’t want to have any regrets about not spending time if anything became more dire. The visit was wonderful in every possible way. Happily, he is at peace with whatever happens, which gave us courage to feel the same without lamenting what the future may hold for him or us. On the way home, we visited another family member I hadn’t seen in years, along with an aunt who is in hospice care.
Through all this overwhelming difficulty for my family, and facing my own far lesser health concerns, I began to see the error in my judgment regarding the world. It isn’t broken and I’m not here to fix it. I’m here to think things and do things that perhaps no one else has done. The reason for the extreme diversity in the world, whether good or bad is actually a gift. It means that there is no limit to what we can imagine or do, and if we were only left with choices of what we want, it would ultimately limit our own ability and opportunities to create the life we desire.
I decided I had to do something to rekindle my interest in music and writing. The thought came to me, “Do the simplest things first.” I sat down and played piano for a half hour every day, despite the severe ringing and distortion in my head, and I started writing little thoughts down that helped me see the beauty in this diverse and seemingly convoluted world.
I was tempted to make a couple of new year’s resolutions, but as I really examined that thought based on my own experience, I decided I had preparation to do before I could resolve to do anything else. So I sat down and penned an article. It came together quickly. I was surprised and pleased. I published, “The Pernicious Herd Mentality of Making New Year’s Resolutions” just the other day. And because of this article, my preparations are steady as I get clear and begin to formulate my one or two resolutions. It feels good. I feel on track again.
Click on the highlighted title above to read the article, and if you feel so inclined, please share the link with others, and on social media.
A happy, joyous new year to all of you!