Music Student

For many years now, people have tended to refer to and think of me as a musician. So much so that nowadays when I tell people that I'm not really a musician, they usually laugh and roll their eyes. Turns out that I find myself increasingly in the company of real musicians nowadays. I managed to get myself accepted into a bonafide university-level music program a while back. My fellow students are so knowledgable, talented, skilled and young, compared to me, that I can now state unequivocally, regardless of what others may say or think, that I am not now and am not ever likely to become a real musician, even if I remain a music student for the rest of my life--which is essentially what I intend to do, even after completing my academic program. Completing the academic program, by the way, is by no means a fait accompli. I find the work quite challenging, to the point at times of questioning if I even have what it takes to do it. I keep at it, however, because it feels to me like learning to breathe really deeply for the first time.

The other reason I am not likely to ever become a real musician is that becoming a real musician is not my goal. Increasing my capacity to understand and relate to myself and to my world musically has profoundly enhanced my quality of life and continues to do so. I'm not talking about material success. I'm talking about appreciating my fellow human beings, my own collective identity, and the complex worlds in which we all live. My studies focus on the music of my own African Diaspora cultures. So I find myself, asking on an almost daily basis, "Why didn't somebody tell me this five or maybe six decades ago?" The answer of course is that numerous people and circumstances most certainly did, but I had not yet learned to listen. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I was so busy doing all of the things I was "supposed to do" that I didn't feel as if I had time to listen. So now at last, I'm retired and am finally taking the time to listen, without needing to feel guilty about it. Initially, I kept getting angry, sad, frustrated, regretful, depressed and so on with myself for having gone through so much of life without listening. But the more I listen, the sillier my negative feelings seem to get. So I continue to listen.

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