Just for today

I didn’t expect to be de-icing my windscreen at 8am on a Monday morning.

I didn’t expect to be sat in traffic in heavy rain on the motorway every day at 5.45pm.

My plans for winters in Scotland never featured commuting. Life was meant to be different. But circumstances took a turn for the worse, and things have changed yet again.

I’ve gone back to work full time. My musical dreams are over, at least in the short term and in the expected/intended format. I can’t say I’m thrilled to be working where I’m working, but I have work until Christmas and this means the very near future is looking OK. It’s quite challenging work and it buys me a little time to decide what’s next, while allowing me to make some inroads into the horrific financial situation.

I’m deeply ashamed of the state of my finances, despite knowing and being able to justify the reasons for things being as they are. I’ve made some terrible choices and there is only one person to blame. Continuing with my studying would have been utterly restrictive, and also incredibly reckless. The pressure was increasing exponentially, and unfortunately if I had continued there was only going to be one outcome. Fortunately, I have wonderful people around me who have supported me in making my decision. MY decision.

Music works for me when everything else is working. The slightest hint of stress or pressure, and it becomes unbearably hard. Playing and practising is not an escape for me as it is for many of my incredibly talented and devoted colleagues. When I am upset or worrying about things, I can’t play. From the simplest of warm-up exercise to the trickiest and most consuming bits of pedalling, I just can’t concentrate. When I play, I am deeply connected with my instrument and the physical resonance of it really does affect me on every level, but not always in a good way.

Having said that, my instrument isn’t a part of my soul, and it doesn’t define who I am. I wanted to study at a high level, and to have space to explore the part that music would and could play in my life when it was the sole focus. But a lot of other things needed to happen for that space to exist, and losing yet another buyer on my house and the resulting financial disaster meant that this space has unfortunately gone.

I have many other ways of enjoying my life, and while I love music, playing classically has been quite a destructive influence on my life for a very long time. The rewards are small and hard fought, but utterly addictive, which means it had been worth chasing them. I have to accept that I am not committed enough to this as a career in order to make all the necessary sacrifices. I no longer doubt the talent I have, and I’ve also achieved many of the other objectives I had set out when I decided to come. But I couldn’t continue with things as they were any more.

And so I start again. I’ve been here before, so many times. Moved house, moved school, changed job, moved city. Endless introductions, going along to new things in the hope it will mean a connection with like-minded people. I’ve kind of given up on the concept of really feeling at home anywhere for an extended period, but I desperately want to find somewhere I feel I can belong, some sense of permanence. Maybe they are the same thing. I thought I’d found it, but it seems I was wrong.

A wise friend introduced me to the following a couple of years ago, and I was reminded of these words today. In the midst of escaping from the aftermath of the wedding-that-wasn’t, which now seems like such a long time ago, I had a Reiki massage which had a profound effect on me at the time.

The 5 principles of Reiki:

1. Just for today, I will not be angry.
2. Just for today, I will not worry.
3. Just for today, I will be grateful.
4. Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
5. Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

There is a lot going on emotionally at the moment. Things haven’t worked out as I’d planned, let alone as I’d hoped. Despite the deep sense of failure, and the feelings of guilt and inadequacy, there is still a lot to look forward to. The thought of just getting through each day, without pressuring myself too much over what the future may hold, feels like something I can manage. It also reminds me if I get it wrong one day, it’s just one day and I can start again tomorrow.

Even with things as they are, the promise of a fresh start is a welcome one. I’ve made the break from the very worst aspects of my old life, and there was never any compelling reason to return to it. My move here was never just about the harp, although it was the driving force behind me coming to Scotland.

I love where I live. I have good friends here and while I will miss college life terribly and will see my friends much less now, it’s quite exciting knowing that I pretty much have an open book once all my debts are cleared off. I am lucky to have the means to do this although it will mean working very hard for a good while.

I’ve not been back up Meikle Bin since I took this picture, but Tuesday saw me out that way for a rather soggy and very cold night run on the forest trails with a bunch of people I’d never met. I’ve never done that before and I loved every second of it. I felt alive, and it was good to be doing something new that I could never have done down south.

It was a hard run, and being out with other faster people who I didn’t know meant there was some pressure not to push too hard and/or wobble, but I also felt I was doing something to move forward and also to contribute to some other big goals for next year. I don’t find running easy, but I know that if I put the miles in and just keep going, it gets easier and I can make a success of it on my terms. In that way, it’s one of the easiest things I can do in my life and unlike sitting down to practice, I never have any difficulty in getting myself out of the door for a run.

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4 thoughts on “Just for today”

  1. I am so sorry you are going through this incredibly difficult decision. You are handling it so well. A life in music and a secure financial situation seem mutually exclusive for me too most of the time!

    In fact I had to take a job for the first half of this year. And while I did enjoy it and met lots of new people, the pull of a life making music was too strong for me. This may happen for you or it may not, either way it’s your life and your decision, just because you aren’t doing music doesn’t mean automatically you’ll be unhappy.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Angelina

    1. Thanks Angelina, I was reading your blog recently and loved what you wrote about your own practice and being able to really concentrate and leave everything at the door.

      It’s going to be a lifelong journey I think but the music is always there, I just feel as if I haven’t quite found my voice yet and I’m OK with that. Finances kind of dictated the decision for me in this case, but I am happy with the outcome and I know there are wonderful things to come.

      I studied at Manchester Uni for a little while and had lessons with Eira for a while, in fact she played at my wedding. She’s a great teacher and I met another of her former pupils this summer on the Benslow summer school.

      Best wishes with your own playing too,
      Katherine X

  2. Five years ago I was a pilot. I flew aeroplanes for a living. Status, glamour, kudos etc.

    Now I drive a fork lift truck in a warehouse. Min wage, zero hours etc.

    Here’s the thing: I’ve never been happier, because if I was still flying aeroplanes I wouldn’t have eventually started my infinitely more personally fulfilling sideline in motorcycle journalism.

    One of the baristas in the Caffe Nero I’m sat typing this in, used to be an area manager for a chain of retail outlets. Now she slings cappuccino. She isn’t unhappy.

    The Dalai Lama summed it up best:

    “Not getting what you want is often a stroke of luck.”

    I know exactly what it means to feel that in the short term you’ve made some sort of shameful error that has catastrophically affected your life. But things tend to pan out – your life won’t always be like this.

    Everything changes. So will you. What matters is keeping your core value system intact.

    1. Thanks, it feels really strange going from the sideline back to the old day job but it will help me meet some other objectives and I’m lucky to be able to do the work I can do which will help me get to the other side of the current financial nightmare.

      I am very optimistic about the future (despite a few other things going on behind the scenes) although I know there are some tough times ahead. I’ve come back so many times now but I have to say, I am sad that things that I thought were sorted and forever have turned out not to be. I feel like I’ve had enough turmoil and upheaval and was really looking forward to a slightly steadier few years.

      Still, good things will come. Someone at work unexpectedly asked me how I was doing today and while it brought me to tears it was so unexpected and there was such kindness in her words, it reminded me how far I’ve come and how determined I can be when I’m up against it.

      Best of all, the Gixer comes back to mummy in a couple of weeks!

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