As promised last week, here’s a message on #tranquility from Danica McDonald, TAP’s special project coordinator
Almost my entire post-graduate life has existed in a pandemic.
The transition out of college can already be a bumpy one, but things in my world took a 180 degree shift slightly after graduation. I went from spending every day in college making music and spending time with 60 wonderful choral musicians, directly to spending 24 hours a day with my partner and singing only to our cats — If my neighbors are reading this, thanks for you tolerance with my current means of musical expression.
It’s easy to get lost in the present circumstances. It’s easy to forget that there are a multitude of people out there who care about you. While you don’t see them as much as you used to, they are still there and are influencing your life in some way.
From the video: We performed this my first year, 2015, when Eric Whitacre came and conducted us as well as my last year, 2019, when we performed a large work based on the texts of Leonardo Da Vinci. From performing it that first year to the last, there was only one other person I got to perform it both times with. Everyone else had either graduated or were no longer in the choir. Even though the people had changed, the sense of community and belonging in the choir stayed the same.
I took a moment last week to revel in the gratitude I have for the magnificent humans I met through the choral experience and for the beautiful music I’ve had the privilege of making with them. And to remember that there is still music to be made.
I thought for a long time on my moment of tranquility was for last week’s blog post. I spent time at my family’s lake where I could have posted the water lapping up on the shore. I spend each morning doing some sort of mindful yoga practice. I’ve been reading and journaling most nights before bed. None of those seemed to fit the bill, though.
Then I stumbled upon a brown paper bag with my name on it.
Each year that I was in NDSU Concert Choir we went on a choir bonding retreat. During those retreats we grew as a choir both musically (Dr. Miller would never let a good rehearsal opportunity to to waste!) and through our bond as people who got the privilege of creating beautiful music together.
At our choir retreat, a brown paper bag was laid out with each member’s name on it. Members of the choir would spend HOURS writing notes of encouragement and admiration to each other during the downtime when they could be off paddle boating or playing frisbee in the lawn.
Choir for many of us offered us a sense of belonging. A sense of confidence. A true community where even the people you didn’t know that well had your back.
Today I looked back at the notes that I’ve received over the 5 years I spent singing with that choir and reflecting on all the wonderful people who I’ve gotten to know and love making music with. All of the people who were rooting for me, who believed in me, and I was rooting for and believed in back.
It can be hard right now to remember that there’s people who care about you, but it’s a lot easier when you have the words right in front of you. So this is my moment of #tranquility: taking time to remember I am loved and have given love in return.
Thank you to everyone I’ve gotten to make music with through that choir for giving this gift to me today and through my life.
(Bonus inclusion of the time Samuel Wolf once got members of the choir to draw in pages of a sketch book for me and made me cry by the incredible thoughtfulness of that gesture)
Dr. Jo Ann Miller joined in on the sharing memories on social media, saying, “I’ve saved my notes over the years too, Danica. They are in a box in my closet. This is a lovely memory.”
Sense a theme from the past few blog posts?
We’re taking the next few weeks to continue moments of #tranquility with a line-up of relaxing and thoughtful posts like this one. Keep an eye out next week for a post on #oasis, looking at the places and spaces that bring us calm and inspire creativity.