2006 was probably one of the two or three worst years of my entire life.
Which is a shame, because there was a lot to be grateful for. Guitar teaching is still very enjoyable and rewarding. I didn’t play many gigs, but the ones I did were among the best-received shows I’ve ever done (for both myself and the surprisingly plentiful numbers of folks who showed up to listen). I was called in for more soundtrack work, including another Hollywood studio film score back in June (more details on that once the film’s ready for release.) And my personal life is happier and healthier than it’s been in… probably forever.
But these and other positive things have been utterly overshadowed by a seemingly endless procession of external and internal challenges thrown at me – many of which, sorry to say, I don’t want to talk about on a public blog. The most obvious and significant trauma, of course, was losing my mother. Looking into a parent’s eyes as they lay on their deathbed is a harrowing experience; losing both parents within three years of one another is a completely different level of…
…of what, exactly? Is there a word for feeling like you’ve aged one or two decades in the last four years? For visiting a potential nursing home with a rapidly-deteriorating parent, and trying to find a way of asking them if this particular room looks like the sort of place they’d like to die in? For trying to maintain your composure while choosing amongst several emailed images of floral arrangements to adorn your mother’s coffin? For realizing that you’re the last member of the family line before you turn 32? Of realizing that you’ll never really be able to “go home” again? Of seeing people in their forties and fifties, or older, relating to their own still-living parents, and knowing that you’ll never experience that depth of time with your mom and dad?
I know: “me, me, me, me, me.” Too many months ago, I said I’d write about Marsha’s accomplishments and life. And I still want to do that. Clearly this isn’t going to be that time, though.
Maybe all of this is exacerbated by being an only child, and becoming acutely aware, on a very fundamental level, of the aloneness that comes from being without either parents or siblings in the world. Maybe looking at the totality of two complete lifetime’s worth of professional musicianship stirs up a lot of complicated issues about accomplishment/success/status in my own work as well. (Being the son of two violinists, and having played cello for several years before leaving the classical instrument “family” for the electric guitar, certainly doesn’t make those issues any less complex.) Maybe all of this has helped kick my mid-life crisis into gear several years too early. Maybe the sudden proliferation of grey hairs on my head is just coincidental to all of this.
That 2006 saw fit to present me with a whole host of other difficulties beyond my mother’s passing is sort of darkly humorous, in a “God laughs when you make plans” sort of way. I feel myself not cruising into the end of the year, so much as limping towards a demented finish line that seems impossibly far away from the starting line a mere twelve months ago. Totally ludicrous analogy, I know.
I understand that things don’t magically change when one calendar year ends and another begins; the challenges and hardships that occupy our lives don’t automatically vanish when the number ticks one notch higher. But in my mind’s eye, each year gone by has a very specific “hue” to it: the combined experiences and feelings associated with a calendar year are dramatically distinct from one another. If that means that I have the chance to start looking at the world through a different shade of spectacles, then bring on 07 immediately, if not sooner.
My New Year’s Resolution? More music, more guitar playing, more performing, more recording. More LIVING, for God’s sake. Because right now, I’ve had enough of dealing with death.