You know how, when you’re really engaged in a performance, time slows way down? Every second feels eternal, and your focus is both intensely tight and also broad, and you can react in the moment to the nuances your colleagues throw you, and you have no sense of the passage of time. You emerge at the end of the concert and it could be five minutes since you sat down or four hours.
This is why I do what I do. It doesn’t happen every time – sometimes a concert is just work – but when I get there, the intensity of focus that I feel is so invigorating that I can hardly wait do it again. This is why I always perform solos from memory, too – I love how hard I have to concentrate to make it work, and how I can slide into that zone where my intellect is telling me what happens next but also my fingers know, and my whole body, and at the same time I’m aware of the world around me and the piano and my own sound and every note that I’m playing but not of the time that’s passing.
The baby has a similar effect on me. I can be playing with her and smooching her amazing little face and eliciting smiles, and then she can poop and I can clean her up and then she can poop again and I can clean her and the changing pad and the outfit she had been wearing, and then I can nurse her, and lay her down and make sure she’s comfortable and look at her beautiful little sleeping self, and only then notice that and hour and a half have gone by and my oboe is still sitting unswabbed on the chair where I left it when she summoned me, and the cane I had wanted to soak for 20 minutes is limp and lifeless at the bottom of the bowl, and the bed still isn’t made and the dog is crossing his legs and I have a student coming in RIGHT NOW, and the surprising thing is that I don’t mind at all.
Certainly, I would like to get more done and be a little more on top of my game, like I used to be pre-baby – but I kind of love the fact that I am completely in the moment with her. I’ve always been pretty Type A, and have always maintained a very structured – not to say regimented – schedule. There’s something a little bit delightful about being forced off of that. When I’m with Zoe I am not thinking about the 27 things I still have to do, I’m just enjoying her. And the rush I get from just being in the moment is like meditating. Or performing.