Blog Entry - Moments of Perfection

There was cause to travel a lot this past summer for various events, and two of the trips (one in May and one in July 2017) took me back to Hartford and memories of the days of my undergraduate degree at the Hartt School of Music. It was a huge honor to be named as Hartt School's Alumni of the Year in 2017, but the real moments of perfection (which are very few in life) were made in reconnecting for a few short hours with my dear friends from those wonderful days. I will never take such moments for granted, there were about a dozen of us who celebrated the Hartt event together. Aside from a few extra pounds and more gray hair, it was as though the thirty-five years since graduation had never passed, and we were all as close as ever.

It was my first time giving the commencement speech at a graduation, I wanted to talk from my heart to the graduating class so did not totally write the speech out but worked from a list of bullets of ideas and topics so that I could look at them while speaking. It went well until I was telling the new grads about how important their friends would become...these would be lifelong friends and be depended on for for their entire lives. I looked out and saw my closest friends from my undergraduate days who had come to cheer me on and I had to stop for a moment to calm the catch in my throat and the tear in the back of my eye that came with the realization of how much I loved all these guys.  


 

Back in the time of our undergraduate days, we were all a crazy bunch of musicians together. We practiced together, laughed together, cried together, ate together, made music together, and became as close as friends could ever be. And we all knew at that time of those wonderful college days we'd be professional musicians and take the world on a stage. Little did we know at that time that we would end up becoming entrepreneurs, IT managers, educators, and lawyers also. Yep, some of us stayed in music and some of us didn't, but we all still have a passion for music making.

 

And like most twenty-somethings who are ready to conquer the world, we expected then that it would all be easy and our success would be guaranteed. We didn't have a clue how difficult life's challenges would become in our personal relationships as well as professional setbacks. It would have been easy to give up and throw up our collective hands when faced with those times when life kicks back and it hurts badly. But the bond we all formed with each other in those wonderful college days was always there and ready to be called on. My own struggles often had me communicating with these wonderful souls many times over the years, who never failed to uplift and encourage me.


And so, reconnecting in person rather than on social media or phone calls at the time of the 2017 Hartt graduation was incredibly special. A second trip to Hartford in July resulted from the May trip, as a former beloved professor asked for collaborative help with his symptoms associated with his Parkinson's Disease after hearing the commencement speech where I'd mentioned the work done with biomedical music techniques. We spent a week in July working together every day with a gait protocol called RAS (Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation) and were both delighted with the initial temporary improvement in gait and coordination of other activities, such as what would become necessary in a concert event with walking on stage, bowing, sitting, and standing. Data was collected based on the professor's cadence (number of steps per minute) and stride length (length of a full stride of left foot to right foot and back again) and we were filled with hope for how this would help him in the future.

I was able to get together with more dear friends from the old days on the July trip once the day's work with my professor was finished. I cherished every moment of the time. I had brunch with a friend who I had not seen in over 10 years, and she brought me a picture (a picture of a picture she had taken in the 80's) of a duo-piano performance that John Boudrea and I performed, probably in 1986. Looking back at that photograph from those decades ago reminded me how outrageous we were back then. And it actually made me a little bit sad to realize that life had kicked a bunch of the "outrageous" out of me and I didn't go out on those limbs of wearing pure bling and keeping the Farrah-flip going anymore or having a completely A type personality. I missed that person when I saw her.

I know, it's all part of the process of maturing. Yet, I still missed her and all the chances she took that brought her to places she never dreamed of going...some good and some not so good, which resulted in a more careful approach to life that didn't mean going quite so far out on a limb. The picture was so great that I sent it onto John so that he could also relive the memory. I mentioned in the email that I missed being outrageous. And with the wisdom that comes from living life, he responded with "Outrageous is relative. So is being a hero to others. It’s amazing to have the knowledge, ability and capacity to give back to our professor like that. "

And that kind of brought it all into perspective. In the end, we are the sum of our parts. And so many of our parts are a reflection of the incredible support we've had along the pathways of life. My friends have always been there to help create the perfect moments that would be missing without them. I will continue to call on them for their strength and support as I continue to do the advocacy work I need to do so that the world will know that music can revolutionize healthcare....if we'd only start moving in that direction.