Friday, November 13, 2015

The Fate of the Musical Instruments

My spouse and I spent part of Veterans Day talking about the musical instruments.  What to do with them?

You might say, "Why, play them, of course."

Once we might have agreed.  Once we moved in and about communities that would have encouraged that:  weekly folk music group meetings, regular retreats, church groups, you know the possibilities.

But now we don't have as many opportunities to play the instruments.  We don't have a house where we can leave them sitting out on the off chance that we pick them up when we find ourselves with 15 minutes of free time.  We don't have much storage space.

And then, there's the larger issue of whether or not we might do good in the world by giving them away.  We've already given some of them to an urban Lutheran church which has a program to try to keep children from being attracted to gangs.

We might give them to that church or we might take them to a retreat center.

How did we come to have all these instruments?  The usual way:  we had some from childhood, some we adopted, some we bought because we saw a good deal or we had an idea that we would learn something new.  We picked up a few along the way because we got them free when we spent a certain amount of money at the big chain instrument store.

We accumulated many of them while my mother-in-law lay dying, a death by medical-industrial complex that took almost four months.  Along the way, I joked uneasily about the buying of instruments as being one of the stages of grief that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross never discussed.  We spent many an evening shopping for instruments, for sheet music, for a variety of supplies like picks, strings, and cases.

We've sent many of those instruments on to new homes.  It just wasn't practical to have a drum kit set up in the living room.  We didn't need several cheap guitars that we didn't have time to learn to play.

The instruments that are left are harder:  the pair of mandolins that we bought ourselves for a wedding anniversary, the interesting drums that we've picked up on our travels, and the extra violins.  I'm not sure what decisions we will make.

I realize that part of what makes it hard is the same dynamic involved in getting rid of books and getting rid of art/craft supplies:  it forces us to come face to face with past spending and with our hopes that never materialized.  I'm not sure which reckoning is harder.

That's why I like the idea of giving all of them to groups that work for peace and justice.  I want that transformative power.  I like the idea that just because the hopes and plans that I had for me didn't work out, that the musical instrument/books/arts and crafts supplies can help others.

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