This weekend I was part of Habersham County High School’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, a musical that was a collaborative effort between the Stage Raiders and the Band of Blue. I was the music director so I had the privilege of working with the theater kids as they prepared their roles and sitting in the pit each night with the band.
As we were waiting for the show to begin on Saturday night, I did a bit of an informal survey with the band; “What would you be doing tonight if you weren’t here?” I received a few answers I expected: “sleeping” or “relaxing with friends.” But several kids caught me off guard with their quick answer: “studying.” What? It was a beautiful spring evening and they’d be home studying? “Why?” Tests, concerts, finals. “I’ve got to be prepared.”
I knew a few studious kids during my time in school, but I wasn’t one of them. As I have mentioned before in this column, it was Mom who made me practice and study. I certainly wasn’t self-motivated. I am inspired by those who continue to live their lives prepared and studious, but I don’t aspire to live my own life that way. Perhaps I should.
What if I lived my life in a constant state of preparedness? What if I was ready for every possible scenario each day? Would my life run smoother? I like to joke that I run on 40% prepared, 40% seat-of-my-pants, and 20% coffee. I tease my students that I am a much nicer teacher when I have coffee in my hands. (I often wonder if they will associate the smell of coffee with playing the piano for the rest of their lives.)
I know there is no way to be prepared for everything. There is certainly no way to prepare for Mom’s day. That “seat-of-my-pants” attitude comes in handy here. Maybe it would be better defined as “go-with-the-flow.” Each Monday with Mom comes with its own challenges that cannot be anticipated. I never know how she will be feeling or what she’ll be up to doing. As I pray for my family each morning, I ask God to simply “help us to deal with whatever the day holds in store for each of us.”
Even as I am writing, I am reminded of the time I spent in my early twenties working at an Alzheimer’s daycare. I had the joy of working in a wonderful personal care home for a year. I’ve worked as a sitter for a friend’s mother and for others as I was needed. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, God was preparing me to be ready when my own mother faced dementia. I read articles and blogs of other’s lives as they care for their mother, father, sister, brother, or in-laws. That is certainly a way to be aware and prepared. Perhaps I’m not as ill-equipped for the job as I sometimes think!
Let’s face it: in some things you have to be prepared, but for others, you just can’t. It’s a lot like playing for a live theater performance. Yes, you have to know the notes, rhythms, and cues. You also have to be ready for anything. Don’t coast for a minute – stay aware and focused. Know that things can change at any moment. Because we are all human and prone to mistakes, chances are something is going to happen! So somewhere in all that calm, focused, vigilant, and prepared state, try to relax and enjoy the ride.
That’s the challenge, isn’t it? I fussed a bit over the band kids, telling them not to study so much that they forget to have fun. Today I’m taking my own advice. I’m as prepared as I can be. Mom and I are just going to relax and enjoy a spa day!