After the Last Gig

Within the last month, every working musician has seen their gig calendar obliterated by Covid-19. Whether you were touring the world with a name act, or entertaining the locals in a little neighborhood watering hole, it mattered not.

The entertainment world, for all intent and purposes, is shut down for the foreseeable future. That’s a scary pill to swallow when you’ve built your life around that world.

Some of us have day jobs to supplement our income and are perhaps better prepared, but for those who have chosen to make music their sole profession, the uncertainty of this situation brings a tidal wave of anxiety.

I’ve noticed distinct phases within my journey, thus far, into this strange new world. It turns out that the stages of grieving are the same, where it is over the loss of a loved one, or the loss of life’s normalcy.

The first week or two were pure shock. I watched the news around the clock and tried to process what was going on. I got very little sleep and watched the dishes pile up in my sink. Before I knew it, a trip to the store meant standing in a long line, waiting to see if they might have something I needed. What the hell was going on?

Once I started to process things a little, I moved into a phase of  both sadness and gratitude. I was grateful to still have a paycheck, but feeling guilty about it. I was grateful for my loving partner and adorable new kitten, but worried about those who face this alone. I was grateful I bought a 24-pack of toilet paper the weekend before everyone ran out. Grateful, but afraid that I still might lose everything. I was saddened to tears, just wanting all of this to be over.

I though being creative might serve as a good distraction, so I set up all of my recording stuff in my living room, then never turned it on. I knew I had nothing to say.

And so, I stopped trying and just went into a daily routing – work-eat-sleep. I only allowed myself 15 minutes of news each way on my commute to and from work. I just turned off my emotions and became a zombie. It seemed a good idea, but it wasn’t. I realized that I wasn’t only depressed, I was angry and frustrated.

Angry that I wouldn’t be stepping onto any more stages this year.  Frustrated at the people who prolong this crisis by their ignorance. Angry and frustrated that, after a year filled with so many achievements, everything came to a sudden, crashing halt.

But I don’t like being angry. It’s not fair to myself or others. And so, I’m moving towards acceptance of the unknown. Acceptance of things the way they are, even if they aren’t the way I want them to be. Even though, things may never go back to normal.

And by learning to accept this, I’m starting to feel like creating again. I’m starting to feel like I have something to say about it. I’m starting to realize that I’m still alive, so I should start acting that way.

I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there.

Until next time …

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