Every year I try to find 2 weeks or so that I can take off from playing the trumpet. I find it healthy both mentally and physically to put the horn in the case and take a full vacation from playing: no buzzing, no morning routines, no range extensions, lip flexibilities, long tones, etc. Right now I am in just such a period. In fact, today marks two weeks since I last played a note on the trumpet. It is hard to believe isn’t it? An entire two week period and I am still buzz free! Maybe there should be some kind of 12 step program (Hi, my name is Craig and I play the trumpet…)
When I think of the amount of time I have spent over the course of my life doing the aforementioned fundamentals it kind of makes me shudder. I hope that was the best use of all of those thousands of hours. I guess I shouldn’t worry. After all, I have wasted more hours doing many other things that I know for sure weren’t worth it! At least my time doing various inane exercises has allowed me to fashion a career out of smashing my lips together in one way or another. That in itself is pretty extraordinary.
In a few more days I will be back to my tried and true routine of lip contortions. Until then, though, I happily remain buzz free.
Mornings on Key Biscayne, where I regularly ride my beloved Italian bicycle, are stunning. The sun rises over the ocean, casting long westwardly-grasping shadows across the ground and hues of orange and purple across the sky. There is generally a refreshing light breeze, and in summertime there is often a cloudburst or two (or many) drifting over the open waters beyond. It is a special thing to be out cruising on two wheels — almost soundless on the pavement — taking in these glorious surroundings.
But that is not what I did today.
No, today I went in the afternoon. I couldn’t go in the morning, so I missed all of that pleasant pretty stuff. Instead I rode like a pig on a spit across baking hot pavement into a blistering headwind with cars and trucks roaring by, spewing fumes and grime. There were no clouds; the relentless wind had blown them all away. The only shadow I could see was my own drifting across the pavement beneath me. I could swear it was sweating. As I was riding across this less-than-pleasant surrounding, I kept thinking about the Key in the morning. Specifically, I kept thinking about what it must have been like this very morning. I’m sure it must have been glorious. There is little doubt that would have been a better time to go for a ride. But I couldn’t go, so there is no need lamenting it. In fact, lamenting it should be the very last thing I do, because it is much more difficult to make yourself do things when they are difficult or less-than-pleasant than when everything is perfect and pristine. Today I reaped all of the important health benefits of riding a bike. I got the exercise, the bit of solitude, the indescribable joy of a self-powered mini-journey on two wheels. I earned these rewards on a day that I could have easily stayed at home. After all, it was hot and windy, and I have a long list of important things that must be dealt with (just ask the people that want me to do them!). I could have just skipped the ride and gone tomorrow morning, but in so doing, I would have missed the ride today and all of its inherent benefits. And if you want to get better at something, or simply benefit from it in whatever way, it will take your daily attention, even if it doesn’t fit easily into your schedule, or even if it isn’t as pleasant as it would have been otherwise. Get it done today, maybe tomorrow can be more perfect, more pristine. But today? Get it done. Whatever the conditions. We can’t really count on tomorrow, not until it turns into today. That is what I was thinking today as I clawed my way up the baking causeway. Now if I could somehow manage to do the same thing with every aspect of my life…
But if you happen to be in this neck of the woods with a bicycle, and if you find that you can be up and out in the early dawn cruising across the Rickenbacker Causeway to Virginia Key and beyond to Key Biscayne, then you will see: it really is beautiful in the morning. I go as often as I can.