She had taken one look at me, at my stressed out demeanor, my wringing hands, and then she listened to my irrational fears. When it became clear that I was not calming down on my own, she suggested playing me music. It turned out that she was a pianist and she implied that she was good.
I had no reason to disbelieve that she was good; she had never lied to me about what she was good at. I had known for years that she was an excellent poet and had recently learned that she was an excellent cook. While she would worry, like many of us with anxiety do, whether she was good enough, she always believed she was good. And she was.
So we left her apartment, got in my car, and drove about five minutes to the college campus where she would use their pianos. She tried to figure out which piano and room would be the best to use. When she finally found the perfect room (they all looked the same to me, so I assumed it was a musician thing), she ordered me to sit and to close my eyes.
I sat rigidly on the bench and I daresay I peaked.
She started off slow, familiarizing herself with the piano keys. Through my cracked eyes I tried to note the scratches in the piano, the dust on the keys, and the way she shifted her feet. I focused on anything I could to get my mind off my beating heart, slightly racing breath, and the roiling in my stomach.
Soon, she began to play for real. She apologized in advance in case it didn’t come out the way she wanted. I think I may have tried to reassure her, but my thoughts had been quite cloudy at that moment. It took some moments, but as she played, I stopped peaking.
As she played, I stopped focusing on both outward and inward distractions.
As she played, my shoulders relaxed and my grip on the bench released.
At the risk of sounding direly sentimental, the song she played was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever heard.
As she played, I thought of life being simple. I thought of life being grand. I thought of being human and relaxed. And I felt connected. The dissociative feeling disappeared as I connected with the music.
I don’t know how long we were there. Perhaps an hour, maybe two. But it began a sort of ritual. Whenever I went to her place, she would either take me to the campus to play one of the pianos for me and when she finally had her own piano, we would stay in her apartment and she would play for me there.
She would often bring up the idea of creating her own CD and selling it so that others with anxiety could benefit. I always agreed. It was almost three years before she handed me a CD. It could not have come at a better time. My anxiety issues had skyrocketed, having just graduated college and beginning my first ever internship, and I needed something to help me get through the major panic of starting something completely new.
It has helped. It doesn’t rid the panic entirely but it has certainly made it easier to leave the house and get into my car and actually head to the internship. And with anxiety ever little bit helps.
I’m not promoting her music to make money. I make no money off this blog. I’m not promoting her because she’s one of my best friends; our friendship has lasted five and a half years so far and my not promoting her music would not be the thing that ended our friendship.
I’m promoting it because we both know what it is like to be fearful. We both know what it is like to have one little thing make the entire difference in our day, whether it be music, writing, or art.
Leslie Balch has three albums available in iTunes: Nature’s Promise, The Christening Tide, and Remember Me (Single). http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/leslie-balch/id461770076
She also has a web page, Inspiring Improvisations http://inspiringimprovisations.webs.com/
Her music uses nature as its inspiration, as seen by the youtube video Blue Heron. http://youtu.be/fMpJNb0eWGQ
I’ve enjoyed her music for years and I hope that others will get that chance as well.