Some days ago I discovered this musician, Omer Avital. I have been fascinated by his albums these past days. After months of watching Netflix, my unconscious quest for substance finally found some ground again.
My relationship to (saxophone) music is somewhat deformed. I studied classical music on saxophone. Once every so many years I wondered why I did not study jazz. Erik-Jan, my colleague and friend, told me if he studied jazz he couldn't have done what he did so far. It's the same with me. I have a set of skills that one hardly finds in jazz music. Although I love jazz, it's what listen to a lot.
I am glad I did what I did in the end. I love what I got to do, I met great musicians and people, and made great friends. And it's not about boxes, about categorizing.
When I started chemo I didn't want to play. I decided to do what I did in 2008 and only start playing when and if the sax would call me again. But my fysiotherapist told me to play to train and maintain my muscles. So I had to play. I did technique only for about six weeks. Like a sort of meditation. Then I started studying Ibert Concertino again. To play some actual music and find some substance in playing. But after some weeks this wasn't enough. Than came jazz pianist Rembrandt Frerichs who asked me to play transcribed jazz solos with him. He wanted to explore jazz music as classical music. Now we have a program ready and some halls interested. And why did I go along with this? There are so many examples of classical saxophonists playing jazz and failing miserably. I need inspiration and energy, and doing this gave me a lot. Maybe the experiment will fail, and that's ok as well.
And of course I have some projects to look out for that give me more stability. The Denisow concerto with Arjen Tien and a project with the USCantorij, a chorus, with works by Kagel, Manneke and van Merwijk. These will be my pillars while coming back. Great notes that are on paper and that I can study in a way that I am used to. Discovering all the colours that these pieces have to offer.
But to what am I coming back the coming months? I don't know. This makes me anxious sometimes. Especially now, rounding off a period of physical and mental breakdown. One of my best friends Niels Bijl told me that this cancer is a part of my life now. I cannot escape it. I will not go back to 'normal', whatever that may be. I have to reinvent my life. Will I have the same focus and determination? I found out that I love being at home with the kids. I love to have free time and free-styling. But as I write this it makes me anxious. As a true Calvinist I do not want waste time. I want to have purpose. And then I realize that although I always had purpose I wasted a lot of time already, procrastinating, doubting myself, ....
One of the worst things, mentally, about chemo therapy is the fact that my life emptied itself. All of a sudden it was only me and my body. Not being able to concentrate, run, tie my shoelaces without losing my breath. My life is an almost empty bottle at this moment. I can fill it with whatever I want, or with whatever crosses my path. In the end my life might be more or less the same, or not....
I have some months to go before I recover to my potential 100%. These are some of the things I am struggling with at this moment. My advice to you: f you recognize some of these things, do not wait until you get sick to deal with them.