Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Year Without Singing

Before I became ill in September 2013, the longest I'd gone without singing was two weeks.  And what a torturous two weeks they were!  I've been singing for as long as I can remember and the loss of that most basic activity had much more of an effect on me than I could have ever anticipated.

As I explained in an earlier blog post, not being able to sing severely cramped my usual form of self-expression.  I felt bottled up and hindered, maybe even less, because I couldn't sing.  I had to find new ways to be creative.  In general, I turned to writing.  But another hurdle that I had to overcome was the fact that when I'm upset, I turn to singing as a stress reliever and as a way to lift my spirits.  The illness brought with it a lot of disappointment and sadness, and without singing, I had to find new ways to cope with those emotions.

But beyond all that, the loss brought with it its own set of unforeseen emotions.  I will try and describe, as best I can, the feeling of being a singer without a voice.

I believe it is most akin to having a lover, a soul mate, who has gone on an extended trip to a far-off country with limited communication and no set return date.  In their absence, your life is forced into an unhealthy limbo.  There is a sort of grief that emerges, as though the person has died even though they haven't, and it pulses in your bones, coloring every day.  And, yet, you tell yourself that the separation is for a good cause, so you power through, trying to find some normalcy in this new, unsettling rhythm of things.

I know that this might sound dramatic, and I am generally not a dramatic person, but the feeling was that strong and I've been pressed to dramatics to accurately describe the depth of it.

Thankfully, that time is now over.  After an unending plethora of doctor visits, supplements, treatments, and physical therapy, I am able to sing again.  It's different, and still a struggle, but I can sing and that is a blessing.

Even though this time has been "really not fun" (as I like to say), I have tried to glean good things from it.  For one, I have improved my piano skills.  Because of the costochondritis, I couldn't sing or play my cello, so I was pushed toward my tertiary instrument: the piano.  These new skills will definitely be a help to me in all my musical endeavors.  Secondly, I have spent a lot of time writing and I feel that I'm able to be more articulate and polished in my poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writing.  And, thirdly, I have watched so many operas.  I don't even have to explain how helpful that will be.

But, most importantly, this time of separation from my voice has only increased my passion for singing.  Before I became ill, I always felt this fire inside me for singing and for opera.  Left without an outlet, this fire has only grown stronger and hotter.  I feel like I'm going to positively burst from its intensity.  This can only be a good thing.

I feel like I'm ready to take over the world -- I am so excited for all that's to come.  I intend on returning to Bard in January for the Spring semester and finishing my final year of graduate school.  Then, who knows what's in store!  I'm just looking forward to it, whatever it may be.