There've been some great blog posts lately: Terminal Degree's comments on a lack of women in the conducting realm, Quanztalcoatl's comments on blue-toothed jackasses, Dharmonia's post on student "devaluations," and Coyotebanjo's thoughts on community. Coyotebanjo's comments got me to thinking about when I moved here, straight out of undergrad, and scared to death.
I don't think anyone goes off to grad school being anything other than terrified. I moved to Flat Place U a good month before school started. It was the farthest I had ever lived away from home, and I didn't know anyone. In undergrad, I at least had a few friends from home/church that I could attach myself to until I made new friends. When my dad left to go home after helping me move and settle in for the grad school experience, it finally hit me that I was in the midst of redefining myself and trying to step up my performance in all areas. I felt unprepared to teach Sophmore Aural Skills, take my entrance exams, audition for ensembles, and I constantly wondered if maybe I had read the acceptance letter wrong. But something happened. The first Friday night I was here (the day before my entrance exams) by myself I managed to find the Pub, and after sitting in my car for a good fifteen minutes debating about whether to go in or not, I managed to grab my flute a walk in, and Coyotebanjo recognized me (from an audition several months before), remembered my name, my instrument, my program, and introduced me to the rest of the community there. I was still nervous about the looming approach of Graduate School, but I think in that moment I knew that I would at least survive the next two years.
"Instead, we offer a situation where people take care of each other, respect each other, and try to help each other however they can."Community, in all its incarnations, has a way of letting people cope and live through situations that are positively brutal. The more I study vernacular cultures, the more I recognize that the blue-toothed, hyperliterate, uberindividualistic West doesn't have everything necessary to live a fulfilling life. I like my technology, I like my books, and I like having an individual identity, but I truly believe that life is worth living because of the interpersonal connections we make. Those connections, intangible as they may be, keep us anchored, pull us through the dark times, and help us mark the momentous occasions in our lives. I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by professors, colleagues, and friends who all understand the need for community and reciprocity (with due shout out to my Ireland Seminar almost two years back now).
Learned recently just before a concert:
Here's to us. Who's like us? Damned few--and they're all dead.
I wish you connections that make your life meaningful and complete.
Peace, Love, and Tunes,