The other day, I did something I’ve not done for over seventeen years. I picked up my flute and played it.
I used to be a flute player. This is former life stuff, but from the age of eight until I was 24, I played pretty much every day. I studied music from grade three, right through secondary school and at University.
And then I stopped. Until last week.
I’m not sure what compelled me, but the other day, as I was listening to my daughter play the piano, I decided that I wanted to play. ‘Would you like me to play with you?’ I asked her. She nodded and I searched around the music room and found my flute, which is actually now my husband’s flute, which he plays all the time.
I opened the box, put it together, asked her to play me an ‘A’ and tuned up. ‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Start playing; I’ll jump in.’
And I did.
When the piece finished, the kidlet turned around with a huge smile on her face. ‘Wow, Mum, that was great! You are really, really good.’
No, I’m not. I’m really, really bad. The tone was grating to my ears and there were a couple of low notes that I couldn’t even get out because I couldn’t cover the holes on the open-hole instrument. But I remembered where to put my fingers and I could still read the notes and I knew the pieces.
And it was fun. Really fun!
‘Let’s play something else. Choose another piece,’ I said.
We played through all of her repertoire, laughing at mistakes, picking up where we left off and smiling at each other when we got to the end of each piece.
‘I’ve never heard you play before,’ the kidlet said to me. ‘I didn’t know you were so good.’
I loved her for saying so. I really did. I gave her a huge hug and thanked her for being so lovely.
‘You need to play more, Mum. You should start playing again. Why did you stop?’
I shrugged and promised that we would play again together soon.
I stopped playing the flute around the same time as I was diagnosed with diabetes. It also coincided with stopping teaching music. I wanted or needed a change – and that was it. I can’t remember the last time I played – there was no ‘this is it’ announcement. I just never took the flute from its case again to play.
I’ve not stopped ‘being musical’ if there is such a thing. I still love music; I still listen to a lot of music and go to a lot of gigs. Our house is full of music – instruments in most rooms, artwork featuring musicians or music halls or music or concerts cover our walls. There are CDs and music DVDs and music books scattered throughout the house. It is a house of music and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But me as a musician – that ship sailed. I’m okay with that. I really am.
‘So, I played the flute today.’ I told Aaron when he got home from work. ‘I played along with the kidlet while she was practising the piano today. Maybe I’d like to do some playing again.’
A couple of days later, I walked into the kitchen and there on the table was a pile of flute music. Aaron had brought it in for me from the studio in the back garden. Since then, every time I’ve walked past it, I’ve looked at. And once, I sat down and flicked through some of the pages, reading the notes, remembering the tunes.
I thought to myself ‘It seemed like a different life’, but actually that’s not true. It is all the same life and I don’t think it helps to divide my life into pre- and post-diabetes. It’s all on the same continuum. My life changed – significantly – when I was diagnosed with diabetes. But then again, it also did when I met my husband and when we had our daughter.
Perhaps it’s wrong to refer to my time as a musician as ‘a former life’. Instead, it’s just one chapter in this life. One that keeps evolving and surprising me.