Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Walking into the stream

Have you heard the phrase, "you never step into the same stream twice"? As a very non-philosophical person, I think it's a bit lame. For other non-philosophers, it means that, even if things look the same, everything has changed.

Or maybe I think it's a bit lame because I've had to accept its meaning whether I want to or not.

We've all had to accept it at some point in our lives. Those who don't, must live in their own happy, little world. The realization of the truth can be depressing, so denial can kick in.

A great example of this experience happens to most of us in our first year of college. During high school you were part of an awesome group, be it a choir, a band or a sports team. The memories can create a physical feeling of euphoria for you. And you want to go back to the experience and have those feelings again. But you're disappointed when you try and nothing happens. It's not the same group of people or the people who are still there, their lives have changed and moved on.

It's your clue to move on.

I don't know if many people have similar experiences when they're older, but being older doesn't make it easier. I know because I've had to face the facts and move on.

Fifteen years ago, I joined a choir with no clue as to what an amazing experience I was about to have and the people I'd meet who would enrich my life. I had sung in plenty of choirs, but nothing like this one. It was a large choir with almost 100 members in a church with amazing acoustics. The power we would feel when we belted out a song and have it reverberate off the walls for hours 10 seconds just rocked.

The Catholic Church is not known for their strong choral tradition - because they don't have one. This choir was an exception and we were proud of that fact. We cared about each other and I thought of them as my extended family. Christmas and Easter were marathons, but we thrived on them.

In 2006, I had to take a 18-month leave from the choir to work on my master's thesis and the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships (not to mention a full-time job). When I came back in March 2008, I immediately felt like an outsider, an intruder. It can be disconcerting when your expectation was to be able to step back into that stream as if it had been frozen in time.

I tried to reconnect, but it didn't work. Worse, it was affecting my mood, so I realized that it was time to move on. So without any fanfare or goodbyes, I was done.

Last week, the choir was giving a concert and I thought about going. I almost talked myself out of it thinking it would only cause me to be sad. But after getting some encouragement from a friend, I attended the concert.

The choir still is amazing and the music helped put me in the Christmas mood. Although there were many hugs and hellos, nothing was the same. I still felt like an outsider looking in, but it was easier because it was what I had expected.

I could step into the stream and not get swept away.

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