September 2005

September 13, 2005 07:26

There is no pain like back pain, or so people have been telling me in sympathy this past week.

I've led a fairly injury-free life, so I don't really have a good frame of reference. But the word that I would use to describe the pulled muscle in my lower back is fear. There are very few times that I've been as afraid as that first day when I tried to stand up and collapsed on the floor. Not a twinge from sitting too long in the same position, or an ache from scrubbing the bathtub that morning, but a knife in the spine and the sickening feeling of your legs not being able to support your own weight.

A week later, with cortisone pills and some very interesting muscle relaxants (I'll have to keep the extras -- they might come in handy someday), the thoughts running through my head at that moment seem a little silly and overreactive. But at that instant, they were terrifying: what if this doesn't get better right away? What if I'm helpless? What if I can't play anymore?

It's something I've never thought about, maybe because I don't want to. But what would I do if I couldn't play the violin? I'm not talking about not being a professional musician -- although I consider myself a professional, I already receive the bulk of my income from a source other than performing. But if I couldn't physically pick up the instrument and play, if I couldn't feel the vibration against my chin, if I didn't have that artistic outlet to sustain me, what would I do?

It's not something I care to think about, honestly. The violin has been there my entire life, and it's brought such joy to me that I wouldn't know where to begin in trying to replace it. More than that, though, I wouldn't want to replace it. I don't know if anything can give me the experience that I get from music.

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