Symptoms of Me

Symptoms of Me

There are still candles sitting on the fireplace mantle from when the power went out.
That was in August. Nearly two months ago.
I am staring at another symptom of me.

Two days ago, I was rushing to mow the lawn that had been uncut for nearly three weeks. The grass was starting to overcome my two dachshunds when they would run out to the fence to bark at the middle school children. Between the rain, the clouds, and the nightfall that comes earlier now I finally had an hour where I could cut the grass without the dew clinging to it. I’m not a fan of mowing the grass but I got it done in 40 minutes so I had twenty minutes to breathe before I ran off to play music for a yoga class.
I haven’t been home long enough to enjoy it.
I am avoiding another symptom of me.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I play music. The last two months especially have taken me to a higher echelon of what I think that means. Through the luck of talent, perseverance of practice, drive of intellect, and the timbre of emotion I am finding a new face of what it means to play music.

The short story I tell people is that I “left my office job” to pursue music. It was all in the hope to gain the ability to say yes when someone asked me to hit the road. The flexibility to create my own schedule.  The freedom to stop and create at any time the muse hit me. The fear of making enough money to keep a roof over my head. That was what I volunteered for.

Those four words, “left my office job” don’t really do the story justice. They don’t speak of the house I built. The technical skills I developed, the personal skills I continued to work on, the commitment and passion that I would show up with every day to lay down a foundation of fervor that could turn a 40 hour work week into 50 or 60. The salary I worked up to and began to ask for that spoke in business terms of: “we value what you do and how you do it.” I would be there, I would get your back, and we would do it together.

I was living out another symptom of me.
I miss it.

Now, I work harder than I ever did. As my own boss, I’m more critical than anyone else could ever be. Am I motivated enough? Am I making enough money? Am I allowed to take that 15 minute coffee break when the next fifteen minutes could be my next big break? Am I just a cog in the machine, waiting to be seen? No one is going to know my self-worth but me.

I’m spinning. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve spun around too many times and lie down on the ground and feel like the earth has turned into this magical tilt-a-whirl, that’s me.
The spinning is another symptom of me.

I wake up during the week and the weekends at the same time, usually around eight am. One of my first thoughts is, “not yet.” The next is, “four more miles.” There’s an unintelligible rejection of the idea and then the following thought is, “It’s not that much.”
I get up.
I run.
I’m always running.
Another symptom.

It’s not easy. My runs always end with me drenched in sweat, taking a quick shower before I even think about making breakfast. I don’t even take the time to dry my hair but I go downstairs and turn the burner on low to cook my breakfast slowly. There is an hour between 9 and 10 where those moments are mine. The smells of cooking bacon fill the house and I read, or watch television, or write. Whatever moments are stolen away during the rest of the day don’t matter in that time. That hour is mine.

I remind myself: this life is mine.

But I’m off again. Cajoling, caroling, calling out, and crafting the story lines and melodies that will carry me and other people into the next chapters of life. I wish I could represent the mystical and the magical. There is nothing magical in what I do. I still sneeze and cough and fart and fall. I wonder even now if I’m tripping over the words I want to say it all.

Staring at another symptom.
Of me.

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