Time to Reconnect and Rebuild
Reconnect and Rebuild
2020 – Recovering from a year filled with loss
Reconnecting and rebuilding our lives after COVID will take work but in that effort, there can be great joy and personal satisfaction.
Now that we can see a path for beating COVID, I’ve been taking stock of what I’ve personally lost. How can I recover some of that loss? Maybe in the process, I can better myself and rebuild an even stronger me.
Last year was a profound year of loss for me. My Dad’s funeral was in early March, just before the COVID shutdown. After that, the whole world changed. Suddenly restaurants, movie theaters, and live performance events were also closed.
All this loss made me feel that too much of what I love was being taken from me all at once.
Dad was not only a parent, he was a mentor and also my teacher. He taught me many things in life but most of all he taught me how to play the piano. His passing was a profound loss. I miss him.
I didn’t think things could get worse … but they did. I broke my wrist. 8 weeks in a cast and then many weeks of therapy. I couldn’t play the piano or guitar for more than a few minutes and not very well.
Music for me is not just a hobby it’s also meditative. Playing guitar or piano takes focus. That focus helps me to let go of everything I’m holding onto for a moment. It clears and calms my mind.
Sometimes when I’m improvising on the piano, the notes become so random that I don’t know where they come from… But now it is harder. My fingers miss the keys and I can’t stretch as far. Playing the guitar feels like I’m starting over as well – my hands not remembering songs I’ve known for decades.
Reconnect and Rebuild With My Music
I have some challenges to overcome. My right wrist is still healing and stiff, I’ve lost the callouses on my left hand so playing steel string guitars is painful. What really suprised me is that I’d forgotten lyrics. In a matter of 4 months, I’ve gone from a mediocre guitarist to a novice and this was frustrating.
Then I remembered when I first took guitar lessons. I had a cheap guitar and my teacher, Marie, removed the steel strings and re-strung the guitar with nylon strings. The softer strings were easier on my young fingers.
Here is what I did to rebuild my skills
I called my rep at Sweetwater and he recommended several classical guitars that would be more comfortable for me. I settled on a Cordoba Fusion 5. It fit every requirement. It was a smaller neck than most classical guitars, nylon strings, and it was pretty.
As soon as I made the purchase I felt this total joy and relief because I knew would be able to play this instrument more effectively. This would help me to rebuild something I had lost, the ability to play guitar.
The guitar arrived last week. For the first time in half a year, I played for more than 15 minutes. Then an hour past and I was still playing, sore but I continued another 40 minutes.
Reconnecting With My Dad Through Music
My dad suffered from dementia. Near the end of his life, music was one of the few ways I could reach him. The last time I had a real conversation with Dad, I sat at his piano, which he could no longer play, and I fumbled my way through “Misty”, his favorite song.
“Oh Misty…” He said, as soon as he heard the first few notes.
He got out of his chair and walked over, suddenly fully awake. As I played he stood next to me. As I continued to play, he began giving me a piano lesson. For 20 minutes we talked about music and music theory. He couldn’t play so I played for him. For 20 minutes he was Dad again. Then he slipped away. His eyes glazed over and he sat back down in his easy chair, and the world became a mystery to him once again.
Even so, that moment gave me great joy and hope because no matter how far his mind drifted, music remained and his love for the piano connected. I see this in myself.
Thinking about this now, I realized not only do I need to retrain my hands to play the piano, but I also needed to understand the loss I’m still feeling. I needed to reconnect with my dad through his music.
Here is how I’m reconnecting with Dad
I’m learning to play Erol Garner’s “Misty” again, reconnecting with my dad and his music, and also looking forward to more time playing the music I love in the future. When I see my hands on the keys I remember his hands and I remember the joy of listening to dad play. Holding the pages of the fakebook he transcribed and ordered in his own hand reconnects me to him and to my childhood – my whole life.
The joy of learning to play again is profound.
I’ll let you make a connection with my dad as well.
My dad’s nickname his entire life was Sunny.
I hope you enjoy this recording of my dad playing “When Sunny Gets Blue”
What are you doing to reconnect and rebuild your life after COVID or for that matter after any losses you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
Playing music is just one example of things I need to reconnect to and rebuild in my life. There are many other things that need work. As I think more deeply about this, and go back further in time, there are people I’ve lost touch with, places I need to visit, things I want to do but have set aside, and relationships that need attention.
What have you lost personally this year or in years past that you need to rebuild? As the world slowly finds a new normal in 2021, what positive new direction can you take to help speed our collective recovery?
How will you reconnect and rebuild your life, your skills, and relationships after 2020?
Yup, it’s a little deep, but I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Maybe you’ll help someone out with your insight.
As always I’m grateful for the team at Blumvox for giving me the opportunity to share with you.
I wish us all a brighter future.