Friday, June 17, 2011

Cool stuff I found, and reflections on growing up

I'm in the process of organizing and packing my stuff. Two weeks from today, we will get on a plane with a 1-way ticket to Japan. It's hard to believe, really.

On a whim I started going through boxes of stuff. I meticulously kept every school paper, every drawing, every piece of photocopied music, every certificate or award, every letter and postcard I received. It added up to something like 4 file boxes of stuff. I think I've managed to pare it down to about 1 1/2 boxes, all of which fits safely into our filing cabinet. I still don't know how much stuff we are leaving behind, but now in our closet I have 4 boxes worth of space more than I had 2 days ago.

A doodle my stand partner and I did on the back of our music in middle school orchestra (Jarod the bassist was my best friend)
I don't mean to sound like this process was easy. It wasn't. I put on some moody Rachmaninoff to accompany the process and cranked the volume quite a bit louder than the volume at which I would normally choose to listen music. I played Rachmaninoff's second symphony at summer camp between my junior and senior years of high school. I hated the piece at first--it sounds a bit like lounge music before you get to know it. After an intense week of rehearsals and teenage drama (my boyfriend left for college), Rachmaninoff's second symphony became the beloved piece which symbolized for me the transition to adulthood, as well as the end of a beautiful summer, the loss of my childhood, and the loss of my first love.

I rather like this guy. I call him "green coffee bean man." I'm pretty sure I painted him in the craft room at that same summer camp, because I didn't do much painting anywhere else during high school.
I felt like I was throwing away my childhood--especially my dreams of becoming an orchestral cellist. I don't want to be an orchestral cellist any more, but giving up that dream was still painful.

I love chamber music and Bach's unaccompanied cello suites. I especially love chamber music because of the rehearsal process--a small group of musicians shares ideas with each other and works closely to present a performance which reflects the group's interpretation, while allowing each of the individuals to express their own voice. As an orchestral cellist, my duty was to blend with the other cellists and not to stand out. Still, being part of a good orchestra is an unbelievably powerful experience. Every member contributes their own sound to make something so much bigger. I think I took this experience for granted. Now I don't know if I will ever have another chance to play Brahms or Mahler or Rachmaninoff symphonies. I guess I had always been clinging to the hope that I would play them again, but yesterday as I put my carefully archived orchestral parts in the recycling bin, it felt like I was killing that hope once and for all. I have moved on. I'm a chamber musician, a missionary, a student of Japanese language; I don't have time, or space, or opportunities to be fooling around with orchestra.

I also listened to Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto during the sorting process. I guess there's a Rachmaninoff piece for each of my major life transitions--this one became important to me in the last year while we've been waiting to go back to Japan. I played it (as an orchestral cellist, of course) during college, but it was brought to memory, oddly enough, by a wildly popular Japanese TV show about two pianists, which Keith and I watched last year. The Rachmaninoff 2nd piano concerto is a recurring theme throughout the show, and it is the piece that causes major life changes for both of the lead characters as they rediscover the joy of playing the piano. (We highly recommend this anime for our fellow music dorks--it's called Nodame Cantabile. We both loved it.) I rediscovered the joy of playing the cello while I was in Japan. I am excited to be reunited with my musical friends there, and to work on my Japanese so we can communicate better.

I found a lot of other great stuff while I was rifling around through my old papers. I was amazed to find a little slip of paper among my elementary school stuff with Psalm 37:7 written on it--on one side in English, and on the other side in Japanese. I have no idea where it came from, but it's been the theme verse of my life this last year, so I tucked it inside my planner. I also found evidence of my first efforts at learning Japanese:



We hosted a Japanese exchange student, Ayumi, the summer before I started middle school. She diligently taught me hiragana and a few kanji, which I promptly forgot. I am amazed yet again to see the way God wove Japanese people, language, and culture into my life, even though I was completely unaware of it. Among other things, I was reminded of what a great teacher my Japanese-American 3rd and 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Mise, was. I was a little snot with a big head (there was ample evidence of that among my papers), but she didn't let me get away with shoddy work. She always expected me to do my best work in every subject.

We got to try Japanese brush painting in Mrs. Mise's class. I call this one "Flower painting with faux Japanese." If you don't know what I'm talking about, look at the upper left corner.
I'll close this very long-winded post with a couple more of my favorite things from my childhood papers.

I liked to write little "poems" like this on my dad's new computer when I was about 6. I wonder if I would like something called "pizza rice casserole" (or should I say "caserole"?) now that I am snobby about rice?

There were many little notes like this one. I think my parents were very proud of me. My mom is good at encouraging, even for small things.

1 comment:

M.J. said...

I know how you feel about throwing away a dream. I grew up wanting to be a famous singer. :-) I was shocked out of that dream in the middle of high school, but didn't have a "throwing away" experience until after my 2 yrs of music in college.

Our worship pastor did the sermon this past week (someone else led worship). He talked about his dream of becoming a famous rockstar, then a famous Christian rockstar after salvation :-) and how God told him to surrender his dream to serve Him. Turns out that God ended up giving him his dream back, only in a way that gave glory to God.

I thought that was a great story, but couldn't help but thinking that not everyone's story ends that way. I don't anticipate being a famous Christian singer or professional musician in any capacity. God has directed me elsewhere. Do I grieve the loss of a dream? Yes. But I know what God wants me to do is what is best for me, no matter how I feel about it now. That's not to say I loathe what I'm doing, because God gives us a passion for our mission. It just means we surrender all, including dreams.

I'm so happy that you found a Japanese thread woven throughout your life. It seems to me that our calling has always held some sort of role in our lives. After my singing dream was destroyed, a teacher told me that I have a real gifting with words, and writing. (This from a chemistry teacher reading my lab writeups, but still...) Thinking back I see a thread of word-ness in my life too (though not as prominently as music was).

I'd wondered "why Japan?" for you guys, because to an outsider like me it seemed so random. However, seeing your artwork, young attempts at learning Japanese, and other elements of your life that had Japanese influence, it becomes obvious why you desire to spend your life in Japan on God's mission. (But then I wonder: did/does Keith have the same "pull" as you do, or is he more "coming along for the ride" as Kyle is for me? [Not to say he's without passion for it, but just not as much or in the same way.])

Sorry for the lengthy post. I just love love LOVE that I have two good friends that have become missionaries before my very eyes. I'm so excited and happy for you guys, and I look forward to hearing about your journey, transition, and spiritual impact that God will cause through you! You're in my prayers. :-)