Michael Alex – extraordinary drummer and friend
” We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. We always have the choice.” –The Dalai Lama
I hear it everywhere! 2016 has been a painful year. The world has lost many iconic and greatly loved musicians, there have been horrific acts of terrorism and war around the world, in November, the United States experienced the angriest and most polarized election of my lifetime, to the dismay of many, Great Britain left the European Union. I personally have moved and let go of partnership in the form that I expected it to be, my parents are aging, aunts and uncles who are both dear for themselves and also for the placeholders they have been for my childhood home community are sick and struggling, a dear friend took his own life, my closest girlfriends have moved out of town… I know I am not alone in this barrage of loss, stress and wondering how to deal!
My deep internal question is– how do I (a woman) find lasting joy and meaning in this tangle of grief and life? Becoming older has been difficult; I find that I am not jumping into life with wild abandon and the expectation of a glorious adventure. I run into hard places inside myself– walls…protections… and the seductive idea of safety.
My daily routine includes raising a teenaged girl as a single mom, apprenticing to become a classical Pilates trainer and working as a voice and performance coach to make my financial ends meet. This takes up a lot of hours!
I don’t have time for grief. I don’t like feeling grief. Grief is the emotion in me that inevitably starts a cycle of self-criticism, trying to control those close to me and being cranky and angry. I never understand why. It seems to take weeks before I suddenly have the thought that maybe I am sad and have not given myself the time to feel.
Grief will come out, like it or not. Without time, mine pushed itself out in another way! Twice this week I couldn’t sleep until 4 or 5am; thoughts, feelings, tears, stresses and worries rushed around in my body and brain for hours and hours… I turned on the light at 2:30am and wrote, hoping to release the internal pressure and find peace.
I am heartbroken and scared that prejudice and misogyny are still flourishing.
I am heavy and sad that making healthy boundaries with my parents has permanently changed our relationship; I am not the person they would like me to be. Instead I am myself.
I am shocked and anguished that my drummer Michael Alex– someone I loved and respected profoundly, took his own life. The world is not the same without him.
I feel powerless and sad that life weighs so heavily and stressfully on the shoulders of my teenaged daughter.
I am afraid that my life is going by so damned quickly and if I don’t live fully NOW, it will be too late! I am sad that I am aging.
As I write this, our family cat is yowling outside my bedroom door because I STILL won’t let her into my bedroom! My house is filled with other domestic sounds like movies being watched and the dryer drying towels.
This afternoon I spent several hours with my bass player recording guitar and vocal tracks on a couple of songs so that he could play with arranging them. I haven’t recorded in a long time! My band has been on hiatus so I’ve been performing solo. The delight and joy that flooded through me was a big surprise! I forgot that my greatest joy is in being creative and expressing myself! How can I forget something so basically fundamental to my nature? It is incredible!
I felt bubbly, silly, happy, outgoing… expressive… ME! I am so grateful for this reminder of who I am. I find joy when I sing! It is the journey to remembering that takes so much time, focus and intention! But it always makes life worth living!