Saturday, February 14, 2015

Turn the Beat Around

Work.  Almost everyone does it.  It can own you, if you let.  Or maybe it owns you regardless, but some people fight it, others absorb it.  Most probably mix the two.  How does one maintain their freedom?

I began my time at HPAC determined not to call it work.  It's playing music and I consider that to be something I choose to do, not something that I do for money.  Money is not my primary motivation for doing it, anyway.  And yet somehow, I must admit that it feels it has become that.  It has become a job.  I spent the last week practicing for myself a piece that has nothing to do with the orchestral job I currently have, or is directly related to getting me another one, or is needed for any concrete scheduled performance.  That was music that wasn't work.

Is there a value to calling something work?  To delineating work from play?  There is a time that I'm free and I only know it because there are other times when I'm not.  Is it possible to live happily with no vocation?

Some people want to retire as early as possible.  And some, despite being able to do so, simply can't stop.  Work becomes the thing that keeps us going.  It's a friend that we acquire and maintain throughout life.  It seems that even in retirement, people find projects, become involved in other types of work.

My hunch is that self-guided work, or work that has elements of such, is the most rewarding.  It seems that this is work that one can own, or at least legitimately feel one owns, even if it owns them because they need the money to survive.

And in lieu of self-guided work, what can one do?  Is there a way to claim freedom in the middle of imposed drudgery?

I don't know.  I know I'm looking forward to a life of more diverse musical projects, teaching included.  To the extent that I can control my career, I hope to do this.  But in the meantime, I think there may be more that a person can do to control one's work situation.  There are opportunities everywhere.

Today it was the violist sitting next to me and the cool syncopated part that Sibelius composed for the line in Finlandia.  Counting rehearsals, I've probably played this piece over a hundred times at HPAC, but still, this person next to me was alive and playing something that was related to what I was playing.  We were doing something together.

Maybe every job has some opportunity to find a pocket of ownership.  Maybe every moment does.  Maybe it's just waiting for us to remember that and take control.  And maybe there's some value to saying something is work.  It's work, but it doesn't own me.

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