Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Follow Your Heart

On January 24, 2010 my life began to shift in a new direction.

I had decided to set aside much of the day to remember Marcia, my partner in life during much of the previous decade, who had passed away on November 1, 2009.  I had been going through the mourning process since then, with her in my thoughts every day.  Right after her passing I had taken a 3,000 mile road trip in my car, to Colorado and back, to meditate about her and our lives, together and apart.   I spoke with my  family, my closest friends, my co-workers, my clients, my chiropractor, my general practitioner, and my favorite neighbor about Marcia, my life with Marcia, and my loss.  I drove to Los Angeles and attended her very moving memorial service. I had no particular plan or agenda, nor any particular time table.  I had just decided to let my thoughts be on her and to honor her memory with my thoughts.  I was in no hurry to "get over" the loss, or reach any particular conclusion with the mourning process.  I had decided to just let myself have the time to explore this process.

January 24, 2010 would have been her 66th birthday.  Marcia never made any big deal about birthdays, but for her 65th birthday I had designed a special birthday card just for her, complete with some nice photographs, an appropriate Dylan quote, and some heartfelt prose about her qualities.  She liked it a lot, saying, "Very thoughtful of you and beautifully done."  Marcia was a fine artist, so the "beautifully done" meant a lot to me, as she had excellent judgment about the quality of art.  She was very pleased that I was "exploring and experiencing the creative process." 

I never imagined that by her next birthday she would be gone.  And so as that day approached, I resolved to do something special to remember her.  There were a number of things I did to remember her throughout that day, but the most special thing I had planned was to devote the evening to meditating about her, inviting her presence in my heart.  It seemed to me the best way I could do that would be to listen to a recording of Mahler's Ninth Symphony on my living room stereo, while letting myself go to her.

I chose that piece partly because of the subject matter, Mahler's "Farewell to Life."  But my attendance at a performance of this symphony in 1994 had been one of the peak experiences in my life, so I knew that  the music would be worthy to the occasion.  And the article I wrote about that performance was one of the first things I had Marcia read when we first began connecting as a couple.  She liked the article very much.

And so that's what I did.  It was a wonderful evening, well spent.  Somewhere along the way, I began to feel nourished by the music.  As Dr. Karl Paulnack has said,
"Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds."
The music was doing that for me that evening, as I meditated about Marcia and our lives.  It was helping to heal my heart.  And one clear thought came to me, above all others.   

"I need to experience live classical music more often.  It makes me stronger, more sane.  I will be better, with more of it in my life."

The very next week I was working at my desk, with Pandora playing music for me when the internet music service ran one of their brief ads between songs.  It was an ad for the San Francisco Symphony, which was promoting a 50% off sale coming up in just a few days.  Bingo!
I spent the rest of the evening exploring their website and looking at their upcoming concerts and the great deals they were offering on tickets.  I decided to order tickets to seven of the concerts as soon as the sale began.

But I also decided not to attend alone.  In recent years I had gone to a number of concerts alone.  And though the concerts were wonderful, I always missed having a companion at the performances.

In fact the very last concert I had attended was a Leonard Cohen concert in San Jose, the final performance in that tour. When I had a discussion with the two young ladies sitting next to me, one of them asked, "So tell me, why a nice man like you is here at this show all by yourself!"  Well of course, I was really there with them, at least at that moment.  But I had to admit to myself that she really did have a point.

And so I decided to find someone to go with me to these concerts. In fact there will be at least three different women attending various of these concerts with me.  The first to agree was my Chiro Friend, who had never attended a symphony concert in her life, but had offered wise counsel during my grieving process, not to mention all the great help she has given me with my body aches and pains.  The second to agree was my Dancing Cellist Friend, who had a room in my home for a couple of years and had been there for me many times.  The third to agree was my Dancing Poet Friend, who has been very dear to me for nearly forty years, a friend for life.

I have started to follow my heart, to act on that firm resolve that came into my consciousness that Sunday evening in January.  This was the first step that I took with this new direction, that has already had far reaching beneficial effects upon my life.  I invite you to keep reading this blog and follow along as I write about my life in music.


1 comment:

Squash Lady said...

Very nice, very touching. I am glad to hear you are opening up to life in this way. Good for you.