What burritos taught me about Music and COVID-19

I been trying to write this for a few weeks now, but haven’t really been sure what to say. After some conversations with others over some burritos (from way over 6 apart and outside, have no fear), I think I figured it out.

Obviously, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve even written anything. My original goal was to do a post once a month and that kinda flopped after November. I think I tried to write something in December once the semester ended, but never got around to finishing it up. January and February were such a whirlwind that I never even thought about writing anything. 

And then the apocalypse started. Call it COVID 19-if you want, but it certainly feels like the world is/was ending sometimes.

When everything originally got cancelled, postponed, or changed, I was, like everyone, frustrated and annoyed, but personally not too upset. In fact, though bummed my semester got tanked, I was INCREDIBLY thankful I was only a first year student, didn’t have a recital, had a supportive family to live with, and had instruments to practice on. I felt pretty good about everything.

Once the stay-at-home order got extended however, things took a turn and really started to feel bleak. What we as a society were (and are) doing is an extreme act of solidarity and generosity for those of us who would not fair well under the virus. However, even knowing that staying home was helping people, it didn’t take away from the fact that everyday I read the news, there was always something different that was affecting the arts. Sometimes it was concerts being cancelled, but then it was whole tours getting stopped, and then it was entire seasons going down the drain. 

Unless things radically change, I’m not sure how large ensembles can possibly think to legally and safely rehearse in the near future. While string orchestras and percussion ensembles will probably be allowed, I’m deeply concerned for wind ensembles and ESPECIALLY choirs.

Not only does this affect me, my ensembles, and probably the entirety of the second year of my masters, it affects EVERY musician I know, and, very directly, my family. With no sign for help for the arts in the future, I was getting really anxious about the my future in music.

Would my family have jobs? Would I have to take a gap year? If everyone decided to take a gap year, will there even be a school to go back to? Will my favorite businesses, run by my FRIENDS, survive this? The questions spiraled.

And, for the first time in my life, I found myself terrified of my future. 

And then recently, I had an appropriately social-distant golf game with Sylvia and an equally appropriate social-distance dinner conversation on top of our cars with some of my old roommates. There was a lot to talk about what our futures would look like, but as I found myself talking about my situation and my unique circumstances, I realized I was ignoring a simple answer, and one I had always relied on before.

Trust. God.

So simple. So difficult.

I remember telling God that grad school was in His hand, and then He provided. I told God finances were in His hand, and He provided. I told him my Boston experience was in His hand and he provided. Over and over again, He provided. Yet I’ve only ever trusted Him if I still had control over my future in some shape or form.

Don’t make it into grad school? Fine, take a gap year, you know you can find work, still practice, and re-audition.

Finances get difficult? Take some time off to work and breathe, that’s not a problem.

Boston experience hard? That’s ok, it’s only two years of your life and He has more in store for you.

Music not end up being your career? That kinda sucks, but you are good and invested in other things like climbing, fitness, and coffee. You could make a career out of those easily.

And then, not only did He take away the arts, but also every back up plan I had for myself as coffee houses started to close down and the gyms around the world shut their doors completely and for the indefinite future.

I was terrified. I no longer held ANY control. This puzzle He was giving me was no longer trusting Him and then falling back on other plans I made; it was trusting in Him COMPLETELY with no plans of my own. I’ve always said that I can stink at being a christian but I will always trust God, and now He’s putting that to the test by asking me to trust Him in rather difficult ways I’ve never had to. I’ve been thinking a lot of Job recently, and while I in no way had it was bad as him, I am learning a lot about how to be righteously POd at God while still understanding that His ways are good and quite often above human understanding.

For some reason, while it didn’t immediately fix anything, it sure gave me an assurance. The future is more impossible to predict than ever, and the circumstances are more risky than they’ve ever been, but God does not turn His back on those who trust and follow faithfully. He has provided before and I’m confident He will again, even if it isn’t in the way I want,

While I will do my best to keep working towards the goals I’ve set for myself, it’s time for me to let go of the control I so desperately hung onto. While the future may look impossible, I can say for certain that it will be good again. 

So thanks Ryan, Joel, and Sylvia. Thanks for staying 6 feet away even though it sucked, thanks for eating burritos with me, and thanks for reminding me that, even in this awful times, I’m not the one in control and never will be, and that THAT is the best thing possible. Love you guys (and the burritos).

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