Tuesday, January 31, 2006

playing ball

When I was a child I used to stand in the back yard throwing two rubber balls up against a wall whilst reciting a song about a sailor with one arm. It was a lonesome sport called ‘Twoballs’ and, as in solo tennis practice, there are no ball-boys to run after the errant rubber sphere making it’s way swiftly over the fence and into the heart-jitteringly cool Matthew’s garden. It was me or no-one.

In groups, however, from offices and orchestras to families and therapy groups, when someone drops the ball, there is always another ready to pick it up.

I remember, whilst doing the course in Voice Movement Therapy, being amazed at how, when the person who had been holding all the negative energy in the group would throw it down and walk out of the group for good, and how, at that point, there was an almost instant psychic scramble to pick it up. Often, bizarrely, it was the person who had been holding all the positive energy (and who was therefore equally exhausted) who was the first to reach for the negative ball and she would hold on tight until some other force drove her to let go.

This happened in our little ensemble yesterday. The problem with our colleague has been miraculously solved by our chef over the weekend and apparently involved many tears. It must be such a relief for him to have let go of that load! It must have taken a lot of courage. On Monday he was a changed man, smiling and communicating and, above all, playing beautifully….

….oh, but what’s that left on the floor? Better pick it up!

We are at the stage of rehearsal where we are playing things for the hundredth time and where we are being pushed beyond our limits so that we can relax back into the performances, which start on Friday. Our chef, rightly, believes everything good is generated from the bass and so she is working it (and in this case that’s me) hard.

I returned from a tricky weekend, looking forward to immersing myself once more in this glorious music. The atmosphere was good for the first time and off we went. After a few bars my name was called (and as ever SO unappealingly mispronounced!). “Root! This note like that”; “that note like this”; “not too much this there or that wherever”. And thus it was for the two hours to come. As I struggled doing it this way and that, I could feel my listening closing down, my head tightening around the music like a vice of judgement (oh look, I have it too!), my normally open doors locking tight.…

How did he get out of the cage? And how the hell did I get in here? Ouch. Tears are starting to spurt cartoon-like from my eyes. Oh God I know this feeling. Please stop. My hand holds the bow tighter. My sound shrinks and tightens whilst I am being asked to play MORE MORE…..Oh fuck, how did this happen?

Help! Bring in the ballboys!

This morning I have been running in the snowy park once more: Charcoal coots dancing on white velvet, a bough leaning over the lake like a phrase mark, curly willows branches lined with white like acid ready to be sniffed up by the next breeze…This time I try to gather these things for my music stand.


Blogger snowsparkle said...

love your writing... so fluid, so real, so heartfelt, so wise. i felt your tears. hope the cage breaks open and you can once again take flight with your music.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous caroline said...

Oh no! Put it down! Put it down!

Yes, your writing is, and has always been, beautifully fluid.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Dale said...

O yes, I've seen that often in groups. The reverse can happen, too. We always like to fix the praise and blame on people's characters, but I think often it has a lot more to do with (to use baseball terms) which positions they're playing.

5:22 PM  

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