Two solid months of recovery from open heart surgery. Never before have I literally dropped of the grid for two solid months. Of course I had no choice and that changes everything. I have grown to realize that many, many good things come in life when choice is removed from the equation. My heart feels better than it has in as long as I can remember. In fact, I was running up the stairs at Fort Greene Park this weekend with the very friend who insisted I get my heart checked out last Spring & I realized that I wasn’t even aware of my heart. For those who have never experienced the sensation of your heart beating so hard it feels like it’s going to rip out of your chest, it’s not fun and it’s a bit alarming. That sensation had become my daily routine each time I exercised. I had adapted to the feeling of hyper heart awareness.
And now I realize how different life can feel.
I am blessed to have had the choice between another year of powering through the discomfort & actually addressing my medical needs taken from me. I may not have taken care of myself had I been given the choice. That is how powerful the mind’s ability to deny and persevere can be. I had adapted to a heart that was functioning at 40% and frankly, had relied on the same level of work ethic and persistence that had helped me to become the musician I am today to survive a broken body. That sounds weird to write, but I think it’s true. Being an artist takes an enormous amount of faith coupled with intense work and (sometimes blind) persistence. I was always told that my original operation (at age 3.5) had been a ‘complete fix.’ I interpreted that to mean I was set for life. Done. No need to really follow-up and look more closely at my self, my health, what I was actually feeling each time I exercised.
I now know how wrong it is to take life for granted.
I now appreciate how important it is to take time for reflection.
I now am less scared of a future with a body that has a defect.
I now am grateful that I took time for myself.
I now better understand how essential health and well-being is to all that I value day-to-day.
I now understand the true meaning of friends, family, and community: You cannot know how much you need all three of those until you really need them.
My life depends on family. My life depends on friends. My life depends on my community. Literally.
Today, I return back to the place I so cherish, Brooklyn Music Factory. I am returning to teach some piano lessons today and then tomorrow spend afternoons in our community room talking with parents and jamming with students. Friday night I attended our second Friday Night Lights show which featured two incredible acts…one of which was Big City Country. As I listened to the group harmonize, groove, and strum, I smiled uncontrollably. I smiled because sound, beautiful sound, adventurous sound, risky sound, makes me do that. It’s one of the most basic human things we do, smile. And I have always taken to be the true test of any endeavour. Does what we are doing in any given moment elicit a smile. Does it bring joy to us and those around us. Brooklyn Music Factory and all its families full of music does that to me.
I am smiling as I write this thinking about being back where I belong. Back stronger than I’ve been in 20 years.
Thanks for guiding me to this moment.
Thanks for being a part of my healing.
Thanks for helping me smile once again.