Once upon a time I was a band geek.
Maybe I still am. Maybe it's like being an alcoholic. You don't actually have to be playing in a band to be a geek. A title that sticks to you like valve oil.
It all started in junior high school (grades 7-9, btw). We had to pick our optional courses, our "creative credits" or whatever they called them then. Come to think of it, it probably didn't start there. It probably started closer to when I was two, holding my father's hands and dancing to Fleetwood Mac on his feet. But, officially, the band thing began at the age of 13, when I chose Music class over other options like French or Computing Science. The teacher, when we were asked to choose our instrument of choice, explained that the french horn was the most challenging of all (masochist), and with that, a horn player was born.
I was a geek, alright. I loved that horn. I loved holding it, placing my fingers in the bell and literally molding sound with the palm of my hand. I loved the warmth of its voice, like hot chocolate at Christmas, mellow and sweet. I loved taking apart all the pieces, the valves, oiling them, placing them back in their conduits. And most of all, I loved that feeling, that rare but beautiful sensation, when all the sounds of our little orchestra would come together and meet in some invisible acoustic space and blend so perfectly, in such balance, that my whole body would shudder in response.
Sounds a little trite, I know. But for anyone that has ever played something, ever been in that zone, that flow, you know what I mean.
Music, as I've said before, is a cornerstone of my reality. It is like a river, moving me through life, guiding me, connecting me to things. Other people's music is a soundtrack. It helps me define myself at times, like a horoscope, giving me ways of communicating things I didn't otherwise know how to put into, well, lyrics. Expressions.
But when I get to play, well...this is an entirely different thing. Sure, there are horn players, and pianists, and singers, that have way more experience and skill than I. But no matter what they play and how they play it, it's not coming out of me. It's not my creation.
I miss band. I miss my horn. But I do still have a piano. And I do still play. And on those rare occasions when I can find that flow, I still get shivers.
Writing is the same. Writing is its own music. And I play whenever I can.
Creativity is what lights up the soul, I think. It's what makes us feel human and alive. And there are so many ways of creating, so many ways we take for granted in which we are creating each day. The way we talk to our friends and family. The meals we make. The gardens we sow. The words we choose with our children. I may not be in a band any more (maybe someday), but I can still play.
In fact, I have a toddler who looks like she would appreciate a little play right now.