Thursday, November 7, 2013

A horn player for 25 years.

(I really wanted to put a picture here of me playing horn with Mickey Mouse 
from my days playing in the Epcott orchestra at Wald Disney World.
 I'd have to scan them, though, and it's too much trouble at this hour of the night.
 I will give you a raincheck and put them up soon).


Recently, it's been my music that has been calling me... and calling and calling me.

This is from the blog I quoted a few entries ago by Lissa Rankin. I *love* her writing.
It is about medicine, but I immediately felt it was about my own stuff. Don't we all do that?
"You may have discovered that you can quit your job but you can’t quit your calling, and you, my dear, were called to be a healer musician, [and doula]. That doesn’t go away, even if you’ve quit your job"
Last week I was talking to someone about my history playing in orchestras, the 25 years I had put into it, and through all the tears I had while telling her (a psychologist), I felt like a "has-been". Like I'm all washed up, long forgotten. My younger kids don't even remember the years [...and years] I played. I don't play at all anymore, not even in the house. (Please don't make me justify why that decision has to be that way.)

I want it soooo bad.
I recently found out that after six years of being out of my orchestra job, the orchestra I played with for 13 years, finally signed on another horn player. All this time, they hadn't settled on someone they wanted to give a contract to. (I am a hard act to follow. :)

That whole six years that I knew they hadn't signed someone, I thought in the back of my mind that my options are still open. Not that I even picked up my horn, but anytime I wanted to, I could take maybe 2 or 3 months to get in shape musically, then go back.

I think I am in a new stage of grieving my music career, you know?

There are five stages of normal grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.”

(Robert- this dedicated to last night, watching "Monk" together)

First stage: denial.

When I first got sick in 2007, I totally denied that I'd eventually stop playing altogether.
I had resigned my position from the orchestra two weeks before I got NF, in order to put my energies into my doula practice. After I "recovered" from NF (and before all the post-traumatic stress, PVNS in my hip, and a few other delectable delights, I thought I'd freelance in orchestras around Israel, and take jobs at my own pace, when I wanted to. If I saw I had a few months with no births scheduled, maybe I'd accept a freelance gig to keep my feet in.

In reality, I did play 4 or 5 series of concerts (a series includes usually 5 rehearsals, and 3 concerts), but my quality of playing was going down hill. I had too much pain, too many doctors appointments, too many problems, emotional and physical, to concentrate on being a great musician.

My denial continued until last week, when I found out that they signed a new horn player after all these years. Door closed. (not that I pushed it open when I could have- problem is I *couldn't* have.) I denied that my playing days were over. (but there are always miracles). I have just too much damn pain to sit and play, I take too much medicine to be reliable to show up on time every day and perform at my best. My pain is much worse at nights, when the chips are down and I have to be at my best.

Stage two: Anger.
"As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger."
 [Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.”]
I had such an attitude during those first years when I stopped playing. When people asked me if I miss it (I hate that question. Do you ask someone who just lost a loved one if they miss that person?), I had a very negative answer: no way. I've had enough. That orchestra has so many problems, I couldn't take another season. I was angry at the orchestra. I wanted them gone, out of my heart. I wanted nothing to do with them. I told everyone I didn't miss it at all.
I blamed the orchestra, the NF, and the doctor. Anger shot out in all directions.

Stage three: Bargaining.

The very real need to regain control.
  • If only I had kept practicing and not let my 'already healed' medical condition run the show.
  • If only I had accepted their many offers to return, after I left. They offered a generous raise, they offered a part-time contract with my own conditions (not heard-of in orchestras usually). They offered anything I wanted, if I'd come back. "I was dumb to let that go.", says my bargaining.
  • In order to protect myself from the inevitable reality (that being that I really need to stop now), I made a deal with God that I'll show more faith, He will reward me with less pain, and I will play music again. (yeah, it took me a *long* time to figure out that train of thought).
Stage four: Depression.

I have done so much of that, that I don't know exactly what is connected to my loss of playing in orchestras. Well, that's not entirely true. I had, and still have, a large empty space in my heart where I used to have that special identity. I was so respected by being a musician, and it was a respectful job, and it was a job where I felt respected. Not a usual combination. The depression is that I gave that all up. As if it is was a desired outcome to stop being a musician... no, that should say, 'stop playing'. As Lissa Rankin said up top, "you can quit your job but you can’t quit your calling". It is quite depressing these days that I quit my job, and my calling is unfulfilled. With that, I feel like I have lost some sort of dignity, or grace, that went along with that dimension of myself.

Stage Five: Acceptance.

Acceptance isn't happiness (although that's not to say that one grieving cannot also have happiness in their lives!), it's simply an acceptance that this is the new situation, and although it makes me sad and I'd rather it not be this way, I can live with it.

I'm not there yet. Nope.

I'm somewhere in the depression part of this particular loss. It was triggered by my learning that "my position" had been filled, and it is now an ache I feel most of the day.

I will get to acceptance, but I can't see through the sadness at the moment to see how that will look.

One blessing that I have noted I think since the beginning of this blog is the gift I have received. I have received this gift specifically because I am not working.

The gift of being home with my kids. They can expect to see me after school (usually), they can expect that I will be around at bedtime. There is nothing more special to a child than to have his own parent put him to sleep. Many, many times while I was working- either doula work or orchestra work, babysitters put my kids to bed. Babies got bottles, toddlers didn't get songs, or a nice massage, and they went to sleep without mommy.

This whole mess has more order to it than it looks like to an outsider.
I am home with my four souls, and am bringing them up, together with Robert, with all the love, emotions and constancy that children thrive on. And home-cooked food. :)

The gifts within grieving.
Yin/Yang, night/day, Jacob and Esau (Ya'akov and Eisav), the entire world works on opposites. Fixing, fixing, fixing... ,תיקון in Hebrew, pronounced like tik'oon. Giving order to the world, order which must come from formless and empty darkness. I could go on and on philosophizing about this, it's probably my favorite topic ever. But, I am getting into pain, and my extra dose of the narc is kicking in. ZZZZzzzzzz........

Hashem works in remarkable ways.


  1. Wow, Sarah, I hope this powerful article will give you a great push towards the acceptance. You are wonderful, and you know it, but part of you is missing, and that grief needs to work itself out. Love you lots, and sending you good vibes till you reach the top.

  2. Sarah, it might not happen now, but I find if I replace my lost love with a different one, it fills me. So I write. And I know that's something you can do, too. Wishing you the time and inclination to take up your book.
    Love, Miriam

  3. Beautiful letter, Honey. I only now found out from your blog that the Sinfonietta filled the horn position. I can totally see why that would be painful and depressing. It's actually for me, too. As long as that position was open, it was kind of like the orchestra was still thinking of you and acknowledging your excellence. It made me feel a little proud -- and still does, that it took so long for them to find someone worthy. I am sure you raised their expectations and concept of what a second horn player should be able to do. No one can ever take that away from you.



  4. You have come a long way toward Acceptance. You will get there. It's not easy but you will do it.

  5. I so understand...everytime I think of quitting teaching I think I could freelance-but no one will want to hear me at this point...also I love teaching music but it is getting more and more difficult. WHat we need and what our families need changes over time and I guess we have to accept what is and enjoy the moment without too many regrets. Easier said than done!

  6. וואו שרה, קראתי וטיפה בכיתי. גם בי מקנן לפעמים הרצון לעזוב את חיי המוזיקה ולהתרכז במשפחתי, ביתי וילדיי. לאור ההתנסות שלך, אני מהרהר שוב אם זה באמת מה שאני רוצה בו ובאמת מה שיעשה לי טוב. בשורות טובות.

  7. Thank you for sharing your soul with us.