It is completely outside our experience to look out our windows into an international crisis, feeling the disruption, discomfort and frustration of isolation and unplanned, sudden change. 

And it is humbling, when I take a minute to sit and reflect that these feelings, this disruption, is totally unfamiliar to me, but not to so many others: People experience much worse every day on our planet: war, hunger, insecurity. And through history people have endured even worse. Even today, people in our own communities are required to face the virus up close, most immediately front-line medical workers, first responders and cleaning staff. But also, supermarket employees, small business owners, family of the sick and others. As a self-employed musician, I’m not required (right now) to leave the safety of home.

It is only from my privileged perspective as a relatively affluent, relatively secure, healthy, white, straight, male Canadian, that this can feel so strange. Many lives are so much worse, even without a global health crisis.

This is the first time I have experienced this sort of disruption, but it’s certainly not the first time for the world.

This I humbly remember, yet it doesn’t mean the feelings I have, that many of us have, are not real, or important, or worthy of consideration, even if our situations are safer and better supported, and more secure.

I’ve been observing my own reactions. They went something like this: despair at lost work, frantic hard work (“got to get a handle on this”, followed by “this is a creative opportunity!”), exhaustion, questions, loss of mental stamina, physical imbalance and health worries, more questions, loss of sleep, increased exercise, prioritization of exercise, reflection, further questions, and most recently: resignation with a still nagging worry.

Of course, there are no answers to our questions. Nobody can predict this future. What will it all look like in the future? When will the future begin? How can we plan a future when we don’t have any idea of how it will operate?

So, I’m working at trying not to look too far ahead; trying to live in some sort of moment; trying to stay away from unfamiliar germs; trying to talk to my friends on the phone; keeping it light; reading, but nothing heavy; staying informed but not obsessing on the news; walking the dog, riding my bike. 

Playing music, but without immediate goals. Now that’s a hard one for me! Musicians like me are planners, both professionally and as a vocation. The very nature of our practice requires us to shoot for a goal: better, stronger, more relaxed, more expressive, clearer. And our careers require that we think ahead to plan concerts, series, funding, travel, touring, collaborations, projects. 

All this is on the back burner. All of it. 

Well, maybe only most of it. 

What can we do? I can learn some more traditional tunes, more Max programing, I can learn to make phat beats in Ableton Live, I can imagine what that solo album will sound like, I can write ideas, and listen and talk to friends about ideas.

I’ll try that. I’ll try to stay in the moment, I’ll try to stay fit and positive, and wash my hands. I’ll try to treat this as an opportunity to look at things I haven’t have time to look at, consider ideas, I’ve not had to consider before. Create projections of the future without getting committing to anything. Watching and waiting and listening. That, and staying at home is about all we can do.