Ever wonder what your personal outcome would be if you decided to resume an activity which had been mothballed at some time in the past for a series of reasons or due to uncontrollable circumstances? Of course, to have not forgotten it all together is an accomplishment. I am thinking of the uncountable collection of activities one attempts, even if “just to see” or because “everybody else” is “doing it”. Two months ago, after an acquaintance asked me ” what makes you happy?”, I was sincerely at a loss for words. I had no answer because the depth of the question threw me for a loop. Wrestling with this conundrum robbed me of sleep and the daydreaming during this grail-like quest nearly catapulted me into a fender bender . Distraction pure. What makes me happy? Many are the events and people who make me happy. But I understood the question to mean what had made me happy in the past, before adult life grew tentacles mighty enough to hog all my time for the daily mundane task never lacking in quantity. My acquaintance had no clue to the gift she presented me with that fateful day.
One day it hit me. The memory of this special fabric of happiness materialised from the darkest recess of my memory. I rose early one Sunday morning. The steady splatter of fat raindrops on the skylight window of my bedroom made late sleeping impossible. Once downstairs I tossed a coffee pad into the machine and while the wake-up brew dripped steadily into the cup, I slipped into the empty living room and scanned the offerings on the TV. I was glad that it was not too late for a Sunday morning concert. Usually a re-broadcast from the classics of yesteryear. I no longer remember who conducted. The horns. Mahler. And then light-headedness, tears filling my eyes and the inner voice finally letting me in on the secret : “That’s it! When playing the horn you were nothing but happy!” With Mahler in the background, I took a trip down memory lane. After much trepidation (could I work back up to the level where I had left off?) and a cautionary look at available funds, I did just that. I scoured my region for a used French Horn. The initial degree of tattiness mattered not. And a dent here or there would not have raised an eyebrow of misgiving. I simply had to locate an affordable horn. I found my match. I call her Lorelei.
Why such a definite experience? In hindsight, the happiness caused by the horn, by the activity, had always been a sure thing. It was something I had excelled at and could lose myself in, jump over my shadow of insecurity. No concert hornist by far, but a genuine one. The moment I picked that instrument up and breathed in the sharp brassy odor of the metal melded with the spicy perfume of slide grease and rotor valve oil, I became mesmerised and willingly sucked into the creative funk. It is just like riding a bicycle. Need I say more?
I will return to this subject as my horn journey unfolds. After a thirty-year hiatus I have a bit of “wood-shedding” to do. But does it ever feel good.!
I am sure that we have all had a similar call from the past. I would love to hear about yours.