Last night as I sat on the couch, I wished for a cattle prod. I had worked all day, made dinner after work, and after dinner I went around the house picking up various messes that I had not created. When I finally sat down, I felt worn out and lonely. There hadn’t been one truly enjoyable moment all day. Thank goodness, I love my job. Work is my outlet and last night, that fact made me kind of sad. I am extremely grateful to get paid for doing something that is often rewarding and enjoyable to me, but I am discouraged about my life outside of work.
After dinner, the girls went off to do their own thing, and T retired to a chair in the living room. By the time I finally sat down from doing my chores, he was sound asleep. I turned on the stereo and listened to my favorite, Ben Webster, playing beautifully on the sax. I remembered a night long ago by a fire when my musical mentor, Matt, told me all he knew about Ben Webster’s life, his method and style of playing the sax, and how I could best emulate that sound. I had closed my eyes that night as Matt quietly talked. He told me to LISTEN. Play from the heart. Don’t see the notes, just FEEL the music. Let the music take me where I was supposed to go. Let my sax lead the way. Let the sax control me, don’t try to control the instrument. Dear Matt has been gone for years now, but I enjoyed visiting with him again in my memories of that long ago night. My mind drifted as I listened to the hauntingly passionate sounds of the sax. Feelings and passion, pain so sweet it stirs the soul. How long had it been since I felt such things? How long since I really felt anything? I remembered a time back when I still played. I had learned to do what Matt told me. The sax played me. I didn’t play the sax. Tears would stream down my face during certain songs. Who was that woman? Where did she go? It seems impossible now to imagine that she will ever reappear. I’m not even sure if I would want to be her again. I haven’t picked up my sax now for years. I’m afraid of it. I’m afraid of failure, and I am afraid to feel those emotions again. I’m not sure I ever want to feel that deeply again.
Almost as quickly as I began to remember, I shifted my thoughts. The woman I was remembering is not who I am now. Part of me is OK with that, yet a part of me misses the other me’s freedom of thought and her passion and love of life. The woman I have become is so very different, but different isn’t always bad. I’m grateful that I had the experiences of those years. My years as a musician will always be something I will treasure. T hated it. He hated the demands on my time. I practiced for two to three hours each day. He hated the gigs at night and on the weekends. It meant more work for him. All four kids were still living at home back then. When I was gone, it meant extra work for T. Having mom off playing in a band bothered them all. Still, I’m glad that I was selfish enough to have had the experience. I would never have time for such things now, and probably never again.
I sat there across from T remembering a past that was full of excitement, friendships, and music, and I looked at him sleeping in the chair. I wondered how many other thousands of nights I have looked across the room wishing so much for someone to talk to only to see a sleeping man. The thought of a cattle prod crossed my mind. Not a stun gun, just a cattle prod. I want to shock, not cause convulsions. I wanted to poke him awake. (Yes, I know that is a terrible thought!) Sure, I could say his name. He would mumble only to drift back to sleep within moments. A cattle prod would wake him up!
I said to him, “I was watching you sleeping in the chair, and I wished so much that I owned a cattle prod.” Of course, he looked at me like I was crazy and drifted back to sleep.
Today I have thought of my cattle prod moment multiple times with a mischievous grin on my face. A cattle prod would have come in handy at lunch when I was trying to get the attention of the waitress who whizzed past the table multiple times without looking my way. I’m sure I could have reached her with a cattle prod. Tomorrow morning, I have a board meeting. For the most part, my board has several members who like to hear themselves talk. Just think how handy my cattle prod would be to keep the meeting on task!
I don’t suppose carrying around a cattle prod is the answer to what is bothering me. I’m simply feeling bored and isolated. I am in a new place, and I don’t really have any friends beyond work associates. I’m living the life of two separate people. During the day, I am a competent, professional woman. I’m interested and engaged. After work, I am June Cleaver, making wonderful meals and keeping the house looking lovely…and it is boring the hell out of me. I work my butt off most days, come home from work, and work some more. Of course, I am exhausted and a bit unfulfilled. I’m too busy making sure everyone else’s lives are running smoothly that I’m not taking care of my own needs.
My own needs? I’m not even sure what needs I even have anymore. I don’t do anything but work and more work. Many nights after work, and after coming home from work, I sit down and do more office work. I’m on a treadmill. While my work ethic is paying off professionally, I have lost who I am as a woman somewhere along the way. Music isn’t a part of my life anymore. Passion is non-existent. I once read prodigiously. I read hundreds of books each year. I may have read two books last year. It seems that I have ceased to anything at all besides work or “duties.”
I have two options ahead of me. Either I go nuts and start poking people with a cattle prod whenever I am annoyed, or I’m going to have to concentrate on carving out some time in my life that is enjoyable. I need an outlet. I need music, and passion, and friendships. I’m just not certain where to begin looking for those things.