Reflections on Transitions -From an Entertainers Perspective
In Fond Memory of Paul Feyer – Someone I Knew Well, but Didn’t Really Know...
I'm in a contemplative mood right now as I’ve recently learned of the physical passing of a musical friend who has transitioned (via cancer) into the space we all will re-member with someday.
While I didn’t know him “well”, I feel like I really knew him.
This is the interesting fact about musical and creative people: I hope you are ready for this, because I am being completely honest here...
Please note I am paraphrasing and if others don’t feel the same that is fine, you too, can post your own.
But I feel that “we” as creative-musical-theatrical-musicians-actors-entertainers-support-backstage-people, “we” spend so much time together ...yet knowing when a birthday is; or where someone went to high school; which hospital one was born in; what street did he even live on - or geez- even what their spouses name is, .. well it is something we commonly just don’t know.
I almost was going to say don’t care about. ...But that would’ve come across as being mean, crass or insensitive-but that is almost the way it is.
So, I want to clarify. It’s not that we don’t care about it, it’s that we don’t NEED to care about it. We hold a greater mission. A greater vision.
That, there, makes all the difference. I once knew a trombone player but I didn’t know his first name for about three years. But I knew so many other aspects of his life-so many other stories and tidbits that I don’t have the time or space to write it here but one of which being was he was a door-to-door vacuum salesman. (And he liked it – do people still DO that?)
For Paul, I probably won’t go to the wake, and probably not to the funeral. I don’t think anyone in his family would even know me if they bumped into me in the grocery store. Does that make me feel shallow? No. Does that mean I don’t feel loss? Again, I say, no.
So, it is with my musical family that may understand me. They may believe me when I say that my heart is heavier... selfishly knowing I will no longer have the opportunity to work with an amazing individual. A man, who had a birthday; who had a hospital that he was born in; who had a street he lived on; and who had a spouse who adored and cared for him.
And while I may not know the “answers” to all the above, my soul intuitively knows the following:
** He is an individual who is deeply talented, who had a longing to achieve and
work his craft.
** He was sometimes conflicted, often critical - slightly insecure-of his own potential.
** He was generous with his time and to his craft and to those interested in seeking guidance on learning more (sometimes this dedication was to the detriment of his own family obligations.)
** He was uniquely -actually really intensely focused- on the challenge, task, job at hand (what was in front of him). Once he was committed- he was firm.
** He frequently lost track of time freely enjoying the expression of creativity in whatever direction it took him.
** He was quick with wit, with a smile, free in his advice and open to his expression of opinion on all matters.
Educated, charming, intelligent, free with his love and passion, he chose a life to live. And he chose his path to leave.
Not because he was weak, that he was not. But on the contrary, because he was smarter and stronger.
Yes, that good ‘ol word that I have fought with since my mom died of breast cancer in 1994 at the age of 55 (I was 24). You see, that’s the real curse for me. Transitions. Those close to me will observe I am not so great with transitions-moving from one thing to the next. I enjoy staying put. I enjoy being engaged in the present moment. I enjoy the company I am experiencing. I’m usually late to family functions (at least by 15 minutes to an hour late because I am in the middle of “something else.”) I dislike disruption. I dislike change. I plant my feet in the present moment and will stay there engrossed, often creating my own engagement until someone or something prompts me to shift. To tilt. To move on. And once that occurs, I am amiable. I will move on. I’m just usually not willing to initiate it.
I was recently accused of using this personal trait of “being bad at transitions” as an excuse. “You keep saying you’re bad at transitions, Val. You’re just using that as an excuse. I don’t understand why you can’t just tell someone, it’s time for me to go.” She’s wrong. It’s not an excuse. It’s my being. I like where I’m at in the moment. And truthfully, if I have a gig, a rehearsal a paid commitment? Well, that’s an entirely different story – I can- and do transition very well, because it matters. Someone is counting on me to be somewhere for a certain time. Like a call-time. Like a down-beat time. Like a pick-up-your-kid-time. I take that all seriously. So, I respectfully disagree that I use my flippant use of “I’m just not good with transitions” as an excuse. The real fact is, I have nothing else pressing happening that deeply matters to me. The real truth is, I intuitively know how far I can push it.
Yes, they happen all the time. As in life so too, as in music. As in theatre. A movement ends, and yet it is gracefully transformed into another.... a similar haunting theme is woven and threaded into giving birth to yet another related haunted harmony. Only until that one too, has lost its course and fades.
A show closes- we all have experienced the strike of the set only to watch, in hollow wonder, as it crumbles into bits. We have all stood on the empty dark stage, simply smelling the smell that is forever embedded into our DNA. (Sometimes this smell can cause slight PTSD in us.)
And a few of us have been lucky enough to experience that slight pause of pure silence -right before the audience fully grasps the essence of what just touched them. Then, in just, milliseconds, it’s over as they explode into gushing applause...oh that sound... it doesn’t just touch the ears it penetrates the soul.
This is what we musicians and theater entertainers deeply know.
Life. Death. Rebirth. It’s all transitions.
Where one musical composition ends. Another is born.
For every show and set that is torn and shed, another is being tenderly crafted with all the hopes and dreams of greatness of the one before it.
And from each experience we indulge our eager creativeness. We tend to it. We grow. We yearn for it, and we learn. We expand. We endure. We carry on. We keep creating. We transition.
In reflecting on the man, I knew that has now passed, I feel. I feel Paul in all his minuteness, and in all his grandeur. For as much as we “creatives” struggle, we actually strive for growth and greatness in our own heads. Our battles our fought and won in our own minds. And interestingly enough, I feel that in our very attempt to achieve – it is here that we learn that we will survive.
I raise a toast to a man I knew, but didn’t know, and hope that someone out there, somewhere, may someday feel that same way about me as I do about him.
Did I leave a legacy? Did I leave anything for anyone to care about? Did I spark a “thing” in anyone?
Carry on my friend.
You gave us all one hell of a great performance here.
I hope I’m cast in the next show you’re in.
Welcome to Val's World
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Val Rogers is an intuitive, artistic writer for MediMind Cloud9 online meditations; a singer and entertainer; entrepreneur and the co-host of the "Truth Serum with Maria & Val" a YouTube Channel dedicated to sharing the fun and wisdom of our age with the world because hell, #wearenotdeadyetmv
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