I hate to break it to you but you’re getting old.
Ok, ok… me too!
I don’t like to think about it and most people I know are too nice to say anything. Most people except for my kids, that is.
Yes, those babies whose diapers I changed in the wee hours of the night just a few years ago have realized I’m never going to play in the National Hockey League or face Federer on the ATP tour.
Now, they not only remind me of change by how they are growing and acquiring new skills but also by ribbing me about my lack of ability on the ice or the tennis court. What happened to respect for your elders, anyway?
They are my walking and talking reminders about how constant change is, and that’s probably good for me.
It’s probably good to be reminded that we are not the same as we once were; that change is always there despite our intense desire to ignore it
Most of us are guilty of trying to hold on to the way things are for as long as possible, when what we need to do is to keep up with change.
It was many years ago, a night like so many others.
I was on stage playing a concert with a local symphony orchestra being led by a guest conductor.
I was dressed in my usual orchestra concert attire, a black tuxedo, complete with black cummerbund and bow tie (à la James Bond, I like to think). The strange thing about this time was that I was seated behind a drum set.
I say strange because when you study to be a drummer, you don’t necessarily see yourself wearing a tuxedo while you play. You also don’t imagine yourself playing behind a 60-piece orchestra at the back of a large concert hall filled with people.
I was playing the same drum set that I had played many times while dressed in jeans and t-shirt, the same set that I would “rock out on” in jam sessions with friends.
But this night was different. This night I was playing in an orchestral pops concert and it was the first time I was hired not as a percussionist but as the “drummer” for such a thing.
I had done my practicing, been to rehearsals, but I was nervous. There’s just something different about show time. On top of that, it was a big program. But I have to tell you that I don’t remember one single tune I played that night.
I remember one moment only, and how it felt. The moment I remember was near the end of the night, in the last tune. It was a fast up-tempo number and I was busily keeping time when the conductor looked up from his score and looked me straight in the eye. Then with a broad smile, he raised his hand and gave me a big thumbs-up.
I am going to guess that that particular moment was about 20 years ago now. Yet I remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember how great it felt, how happy I was.
I’m not sure if the conductor meant to make me feel as good as he did, but in that one moment, he validated my hard work, my years of practice, my musicianship and how I played that night.
And the thing is, he didn’t have to do it. There’s no rule about that. I have played many concerts where it seems the conductors don’t even know you’re there. So for one to make an effort, that really stood out for me, and his timing was right on.
That was a great moment! That’s the thing about special moments. They can have a profound impact on people.
It started when you were really young.
That fear of admitting you did something wrong.
It was always tempting to cover it up because you learned quickly that doing something wrong usually came with consequences. Most likely, you got a talking to at the very least.
Then there was school. You occasionally did things that were wrong at school, and now they were on paper.
They were called mistakes, and they were often circled in the dreaded red pen.
It makes sense that a test would sit in your bag for a few days waiting for just the right moment to be shown to your parents - when they were too busy to really look at it.
There’s never been anything fun about admitting your mistakes.
But making mistakes just might be the most valuable thing that we can do for ourselves.
Everything I read on-line before I left home said not to do it.
Every local person I met when I was there said not to do it.
They all said the same thing, “If you weren’t born and raised here, don’t drive here”.
This is all that was going through my head as the day came when we were going to pick up our rental car.
I had already been in Sorrento, Italy for 4 days, watching, examining, trying to find the secret of their traffic flow.
I did my research from the sidewalk or within the safe confines of a car complete with a hired driver when we were on an excursion.
With him at the wheel, I saw large tour buses shave by on the beautiful yet treacherous Amalfi coast. I observed Vespa after Vespa appear and disappear beside us like mosquitoes buzzing past our ears as we wormed our way through the constantly winding roads. Stop signs were merely suggestions as traffic seemed to mix together like water merging from different streams.
These were the thoughts going through my head as I sat there signing the forms linking my credit card to the responsibility of my driving this car. Extra insurance, she asked. Yes, I nodded.
Yup. I was worried. I had anxiety. And then she gave me the keys.