The Mind Enters Itself

8d65c75a-501a-458f-8ab6-e392267dcf9a“Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?”
-Theodore Roethke-

 

Do you ever feel like you are losing your mind?  I mean really losing your mind.  This is me – at least the me of now.

I have developed this huge fear of dementia – more specifically of Alzheimer’s.  A person that has Alzheimer’s Disease has a brain that looks like Swiss Cheese – holes everywhere.  This disease literally eats pieces of your brain.  You forget people.  You forget places.  You forget experiences.  You forget how to take care of yourself.  You forget how to swallow.  You forget how to talk.  You lose you.

Back in the 1980s, my maternal grandfather had Alzheimer’s.  He died not long after I turned five, so I have very few memories of him.  In fact, I only have one memory and I am not sure it is even real.  Over the years, I have heard my mom talk about her father during this period.  He would walk and walk and walk and have to be brought home from miles away.  He had moments of not recognizing his wife of many years or his children.  She always comes back to, “I wish we knew then what is known now about this disease.  It would have helped us.”  It is true that very little was known and so members of the family were hurt much more by his forgetting them than perhaps could have been the result.  The family had not been given key information to aid them in their coping with this loss of their husband and father.  This information just was not readily available because it was still early days.

Alzheimer’s Disease is called “The Long Goodbye” for a reason.  By the time a person does die, he is truly and completely gone.  I see this every day at work.  I see the grief family members are called to endure as they slowly lose their family member.  Would I wish this disease on even my greatest enemy?  NO!

I feel this incredible fear and almost certainty that this will happen to me.  I do not want to miss or regret any moment of the life that I am given.

I often feel that my mind is this jumbled jar of thoughts, ideas, and warring emotions.  This past week has been one of heightened creativity.  However, with this creativity comes this feeling of unimaginable madness.  I could not even begin to describe this feeling.  It is like wanting more, more, more and being given a pittance.  I want more time to devote to my art, more time for personal and professional creativity, more time to just live.  I am happy and sad, satisfied and unsatisfied, energized and exhausted all at the same time.

So, for today, I live and create.  Tomorrow I hope to be able to do the same.  There will come a day, hopefully in the far distant future, when I may not even remember that I desired to do so.

Peace and Love (And Creativity),

The Mad Pianist 4efca8b5-d861-48cd-aeda-84be1f3b2651

 

Gratitude: Talent

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The Mad Pianist playing Horowitz’s piano. Photo: TLG, 2011

Not many people know exactly what I do for work.  To be honest, there are times when I am not exactly sure what I do when I am at work.  My schedule and functions change fairly regularly – mostly monthly.  I work with the elderly in a long-term care setting but I am not a nurse.  I work within the recreation department but I like to view myself as a “non-licenses music therapist.”  As a result of all of my music training, I have the opportunity to share music with this population.  It is a hard but so very rewarding group of tasks on a daily basis.

Today, as they were getting ready for dinner, a lady wheeled herself up to me.  She said, “When are you going to play the piano for me again?  Can you do it right now?  Do you have something you can play for me?”  At the moment, I was getting ready to attend a staff meeting but we made plans for me to play for her this weekend.  I am going to play some Bach, Beethoven, and a piece composed just a couple of decades back.  Her excitement is kind of funny, at least I think it is.  Nearly everyone at this facility knows that I play the piano (and some know I play other instruments as well) but she is really one of the only ones that seeks me out to play for her.  She is an artist and so I keep trying to tell her that I will play for her if she will paint me a picture.  I think she has figured out that I will play for her anyway.

As a part of my weekly schedule, I have a music group.  Those involved in this group are usually all long-term patients.  They have varying illnesses, cognitive levels, and use of their limbs.  About a month ago, I was leading my music group and they decided that it would be fun to work on some Christmas songs and then record them.  They want to be able to give CDs to their family members for the holidays.  Now, I thought (and still think) that this was a terrific idea.  Little did I know at the time how much work this was going to be for me.  As a group, we picked five songs to work on:  3 traditional carols and 2 of the more “modern” Christmas tunes.  One of these I had never heard and we are learning the words tomorrow.  I have had the opportunity to arrange each of these pieces for the group.  They will be singing and playing various percussive instruments.  I will be on the keyboard and I have arranged for some of my musician friends to assist us.  The closer we get to the recording date, the more excited everyone seems to get about this project.

So, for today, I am grateful that I have this opportunity.  I get to see the smiles on each of the faces of this population.  I get to see the impact that music truly has on each individual and their varying circumstances.  If anyone doubts the power of music to heal and to bridge gaps, come visit with me.  I have seen Alzheimer’s patients become more coherent and balanced.  I have seen behaviors decrease.  I have seen people come together because of the music.  I am a believer.

I am grateful for being given this talent that I can share with the world.  My mom is always telling me “don’t hide your light under a bushel.”  I could be content, mostly, with living in the shadows but that is now what I have been meant to do with my life.  I have a gift and the accompanying training to bless others and to bring a smile and commonality to the lives of those around me.  I will not squander my gift.  I will showcase it and allow it to grow even further.

What talent are you sharing with the world?  I want to hear from you!

Peace and love,

The Mad Pianist Continue reading