Class impAct

Some of my high school classmates are getting together for an impromptu hang soon. I declined, because I have family coming into town and they’ll be here through Saturday. It’s true! It’s also true that they’re staying in another house on the other side of town and I could absolutely go to this reunion if I wasn’t (a) an extreme introvert and (b) feeling the pressure of self-perceived failure.

I know it’s a familiar trope. Why do class reunions do this to some people, while they’re great fun for others? Is it because we’re narcissists? Maybe. I’ve read about narcissism lately and even though I overpost on Farcebook, have my own website and occasionally even write a blog, I’m not certain narcissism is really my case. It used to be! I was asshole-level overconfident in my youth. Funny how “overconfident” and “overcompensate” almost rhyme. 

Thinking about a thirty-year reunion while painting the trim in my dining room led me to start thinking about legacy. No, that’s not right, yet—I’m in my late 40s, but it’s not quite time for “legacy.” Maybe what I mean is “impact.”  

Painting the trim in this room, it’s clear to see what impact I’m having. Even putting white paint on white primer, I can see the difference compared to the trim I haven’t yet touched: a yellowing, oil-based white that was also probably applied in 1992. 

Impact is harder to discern elsewhere. I wonder if I still have an impact at my job—worse yet, do I have a negative impact at my job? I’ve been there quite a long time. 23 years in the orchestra, nearly 16 on staff. Fifteen as a part-timer at the same local university. Growing up, the people around me all had decades and decades of service to their organizations. My main teacher had been a member of the Chicago Symphony from 1938-1989. My other teacher joined the CSO in 1962 and is still laying it down week after week. As I look around, longevity no longer seems to be the trend, but perhaps I had a skewed perspective in the first place. 

Does impact need to be far-reaching? Should I have strived harder for San Francisco, Boston, Europe, or am I serving a purpose playing for the people where I grew up? Does impact need to be long-lasting, or am I good with the fleeting impacts of concerts upon concerts upon concerts? Have I painted myself into a corner?

I have only a couple of students at a time, which is perfectly fine but honestly I’d prefer to be doing it full-time. [What did Kara call it? “Executive Dysfunction?”] One student is on full scholarship and is a music/neuro double major. Great player, very conscientious. We work on micro-adjustments to pitch, clarity of articulation, phrasing, variable vibrato, connectivity of legato.  Another student is a freshman who hasn’t touched a trombone since the eighth grade and showed up for last week’s lesson so incredibly pleased that she could read all of the notes in her assigned etude and was able to play a note that previously was way too high. She’s just doing this for fun (well, credit, too) and wants to eventually join one of the college bands. 

Whom am I impacting more? And how? Does it matter?

Just some introspection on a Sunday afternoon. Good thing this blog is my own and I don’t need to tie it up neatly with a witty something-or-other that refers to the reunion. Go Vikings. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *