With the end of the year looming, not to mention Christmas, it’s time for one of my six-monthly reflective messages. Usually I do these in the form of a status message on FB, or leave these for one of my private journals. But this one is going to be a little bit longer than is suitable for a mere status message, and which I feel is worthy of sharing with those of you who care for both Paula and myself, and not just for my own private, reflective, gestation, at a time far in the distant future.
It’s been a very tough year for both of us; Paula’s depression has returned after a five to six year hiatus, which has been triggered by external influences. The pair of us has spoken about depression before on our respective websites, and for those of you quietly suffering let me just say a few things. First, there’s a lot more of it about than you realise, and, without knowing it, you do know others who are suffering from it, but who also probably don’t want anyone else to know, due to them being just as scared of others finding out about it as you are. The second thing is that you should never be afraid to seek professional help, and that by sharing you’re suffering of this disease with others (yes, it is medically recognised as a disease) you will be helping yourself to have happier days, or less numbing ones at the least. For those who don’t suffer from depression, don’t get frustrated if you don’t have the answers or solutions. Just listen, give love, and let those who are suffering know that you’re there with them. You may not hear it come out of their mouths, but those who are suffering will appreciate your concern (sometimes what comes out may be just the opposite). The third thing is simple, and I hope that these words give comfort: You’re not alone. Please don’t suffer alone. The thought of you doing so upsets me more than if was I suffering from depression alone myself.
Paula is now finally out of reach from the most volatile of those triggers, but not before having had to endure them for about five months. Helping her to deal with her depression has naturally had an impact on my well-being, manifesting itself not only via emotional stress derived from watching her emotional state become more unstable each day, but it has also manifested itself physically through ongoing illness, diagnosed medical conditions and, as I’ve realised only in the last while, suppressed anxiety resulting in moments of physical tension. Because of all of this, the last five months have been particularly traumatic, perhaps the worst I’ve ever endured. Sadly, we’re not out of the woods yet, but we may be…soon.
Given all of this, you would think that this has been a terrible year, but there have been many good things that have also happened this year, and have made the aforementioned things, at the very least, bearable.
One of these has been the family holiday to Singapore in September, which has been the first in many years. Although I wasn’t very well physically throughout the trip, it was good to go back to Singapore again, to see the people and the sights, and the lively wedging of separate cultures alongside each other within one tiny spot in the world. The most rewarding part of this trip was seeing the family become even closer to each other than before, and to see my sister and brother-in-law experience their first trip overseas; something that I’ll treasure for many years to come.
The “Practise Sheet Project” is coming to an interesting point in its existence, and although technical development has gradually acquired less mystique throughout the course of the project, this year has started to see results that I’ve been happy with, which, despite the traumatic events that have been going on, have still been able to grow regardless, and have given me subsequent levels of stage confidence that I am beginning to become happy with. The project is now into its fifth year, and without it I wouldn’t have had the confidence to finish my degree, or contemplate the next one. It has also demonstrated that change is incremental, requires a systematic approach, requiring patience and, above all, humility. Without it (and Paula), I wouldn’t have attempted to programme this year’s two Ady concerts with the scope that I did.
An extension of the two concerts from last year, this year’s two Ady Ensemble concerts have seen some long life dreams fulfilled- such as performing Glass and Britten, collaborating and premièring new trombone works with enthusiastic and talented composers, and having the same calibre of interested performers involved in the concerts as well. All this has helped me to relearn the joy of performance, and, which has been an interesting sideline, relearn feeling the value of being part of a team (even if it is a team that I’ve put together!) and see the joy of having others feel the same. Those involved know how deeply my feelings go for how much they’ve shared and contributed to these projects. It is no exaggeration when I say that those feelings will transcend the transient physical and emotional unease that I (and Paula) are currently experiencing, and will do so for many years to come.
But, for the moment, I need to enjoy the lack of a routine and of impending commitments, and let my jaded body and soul rest. It’s been such a tough year. I feel spiritually uplifted and inspired by the projects and the people that I’ve experienced within them, but my body tells me to sit still and meditate on them quietly. For the moment my body wins, and yet I see images on the horizon. Although I can only vaguely catch a trail of their scent, their silhouetted outlines seem very attractive- and strangely familiar after a twenty year hiatus.
Don’t ever lose your dreams, or something in you will die. That’s not me being chic- something in you will die. It can, however, be revived- if you have double the time, and persistence, to encourage them that it’s safe to come back. The paradox is that they will only mean half as much to you, if you never lose them. Then again, it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.
Merry Christmas to all of you, and our love to those of you who are especially dear to us.
Ady and Paula