Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Wedding and a Crucible

Last weekend, I was an usher at the beautiful wedding for two friends of mine from school. As I ush-ed to the best of my ability (I am possessed of considerable ush-ing prowess), surrounded by a contingent of my classmates, I had a small but pivotal notion:

I was never a music major. At least, in the most romantic sense of the words.

It hit me fully as I was sitting in the back of the church sanctuary during the ceremony. There was a small choir in the balcony to the right of the stage, singing wonderful music familiar to anyone who had spent four years at the CN Music Department under Doc Thorson. We were all trained classically, immersed in everyone from Tallis to Scarlatti to Bach to George Crumb and Paul Hindemith. But they, it seems, have all gone on to chase higher education. Many of them now have careers teaching music to school children. They are classically trained musicians. I am a folk musician - with some classical training.

This all washed over me at once. Beth McDonald, my classmate and contemporary, sat on stage and played piano as her mother, who does the editing for my dad's compositions, played the thunderous pipe organ until the chandelier quivered on its chain. The chamber choir sang, and I couldn't help but grin - grin to be a folk musician.

It's a position of inadequacy sometimes. All of my friends are better than I at something, of course. That goes without saying. Most of them are better at everything. If you read back a little, you will find that I recently obtained a Facebook - though I'm not sure that "obtained" is the right word, since it feels like some part of me has been cleft away in the process. This has rekindled my interest in discovering what stories these early chapters of my life have gone on to create. It's as if we're a Choose-your-adventure book, with all the adventures happening simultaneously. Scrolling through the websites of my friends and acquaintances, I find people of great conviction, talent, and perseverance. Let us be certain, it is not beneficial to play the comparison game. How much less beneficial to compare oneself with a myopic facsimile of a person, such as the representations of ourselves that we share online. I, for one, am definitively incapable of rendering up anything close to a holistic description of myself in a single blog page. Even when 99% of the writers out there are better than I, I would wager that their own prodigious talents balk at the task of complete self-description.

The funny thing about all that academic claptrap is that it doesn't hold water when my heart gets on that pity party. But still, I am a folk musician. And I'm okay with that. Especially when confronted with the crucial icon of a giddy groom and his beautiful bride, eyes all ablaze as a bush, in flame but not consumed.


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