There are times in life where everybody is doing something that you aren’t doing.
And the person that tells you is Facebook.
So when I was 21, Facebook told me that all my friends were getting married and I wasn’t.
Now all my married friends are having babies.
And every summer, all my friends go to beaches and theme parks.
It is like an unreal phenomenon to me because every summer my family and our music group puts on a summer extravaganza called the Fine Arts Summer Academy. And it is like building the Trojan Horse. Except it’s not fake.
So while everybody else goes outside and soaks up enough Vitamin D to last the rest of the year, we live in a place called the Battle Zone. You start to go a little crazy. Your mind races with tasks. You surround yourself with lists: Reminders by Siri while you drive, Notes, Pages entitled To-Do, purse notebooks, Sticky Notes, bedside notebooks.
You lay awake at night madly jotting down to-dos as they whirl into your frontal lobe so you won’t forget them during your dreams, where you have nightmares of your bed being a spreadsheet cell and your body contorting itself to form the letters needed to create classes.
Every time you look at your email there are 100 New Unread Messages.
Every time you look at your phone there are 10 New Voicemails.
Every time you look at Facebook the people coming to the Academy are posting Count-Downs.
Everyone is excited!
And you are too…just in a frantic caffeine-overload jittery administrative creative marathon kind of way.
You know that once FASA arrives, it’s going to be like that thrilling and overwhelmingly happy moment at Universal Studios where you fly in your blow-up raft off the waterfall, through the air, and land with a thud in the whitewater river going through Jurassic Park while dinosaurs poke out of the bushes and beautiful birds squawk over head.
(We did that when FASA was just a twinkle in our eye.)
Then, a few weeks before it begins, you get the great news that you are going to be creating a PBS special at the final gala of the Fine Arts Summer Academy. Which is incredible. As in, in-credible. Because it means that not only are you going to create and administrate three top-notch shows in world-class venues that most people would take 2 full college semesters to put together, but you’re also going to get as skinny as possible and learn and memorize and pristinely perfect 16 brand-new songs for the PBS special.
You go to dress fittings and get beautiful couture ballgowns tailored for you.
You go to the Battle Zone and get sharpie marks on your hands from the white board and sing Frozen songs because that’s what everybody’s kids watch while you’re working after-hours.
You don’t eat hardly anything all day and go on long walks at every possible occasion.
You swathe your cuticles in coconut oil to heal the wounds from your harp strings cutting them from long practice hours.
When you’re eyes start to blur from Filemaker you turn on major movie soundtracks to make scheduling seem like an Adventure.
You get chemical peels that rip your face off.
You stay up late making color coded spreadsheets and talk non-stop on the phone about people whose names you’ve memorized though you’ve never met them before (weird sensation).
You practice for hours and hours and hours on stages in dark rooms with coffee travelers and tea travelers and water bottles and salads, salads, salads.
And then you emerge from the dark dungeon of memorizing harp pedal figures complex enough for Leonardo DaVinci and you go out for a long walk because you gotta exercise at some point and you don’t care that it’s a parking lot outside.
You walk down the parking lot as far as it will take you. The surrounding buildings melt away into green lawns. You see a collection of raised garden beds on the side of the parking lot. It’s like a fairy tale. Sudden. Completely out of place. Iconically beautiful.
You admire the raised beds, guess what plants each one has, and dream of the day when you’ll have a passel of children with exotic names and you will plant raised beds and have Shetland ponies.
Then you turn the corner and see Paradise.
A lane through beautiful trees.
A field of wildflowers that your camera cannot capture.
The sun beaming through trees above gravestones where people sleep that had lives and dreams and love and happiness and sadness just as real as your own. Whose own lives seem just as all-pervasive as yours does to you.
And you realize that one day you will be there too.
The wind and the sun and the gravestones and the flowers make you remember that life is merely a breath of wind and it passes away, no matter how beautiful and thrilling and overwhelming and incredible it is.
And you decide to soak up every moment of this beautiful ups-and-downs life while it lasts.