Sorry about that...
We've been in lockdown in the UK for the last 3 months. Live music is a memory, live concerts and theatre is gone, and none of it in the UK seems to be returning. I've put on half a stone, drank consistently for the first 4 weeks (and subsequently not for the last 2+ months), repainted the bedroom, painted shelves, repeatedly deep cleaned the flat and absolutely crushed life on Animal Crossing #current. Who was I? I certainly didn't spend much time in the shed playing scales or practising. What was the point when shows were not coming back and live singing was seen as a potential hazard. 3 metres between singers and audience.. that's just not practical. And so every day rolled into the next, new recipes tried and Zoom calls petered out until there was just today. And today. And today.
Until.. the DRIVE IN LIVE shows were confirmed the other week. And suddenly, I found myself with the realisation that I would be going back out on tour playing in front of real live people with the musical SIX. I've been with the company since September 2019 on the UK Tour until the rather depressing but absolutely expected voice note from the Company Manager in March told us "Don't come down to Brighton.. it's been cancelled". After much terror scrolling over the weeks, I full expected UK Theatre to never open again. But life has found a way. A bubbled, socially-distant, scented with hand gel, and COVID-19 tested way, but still! A way!
And this brought a few sharp realities into focus for my own mental and emotional awareness. So much of my life revolves around the next gig - and you can put my physical and mental state into that box as well. If I'm not physically in shape, I can't do the gig.. so yoga and gym visits it is to keep my body exercised and able to do those shows night after night without pain in my shoulder or feet. If I over-indulge on food or drink then I won't fit into my lovely gig clothes or my very sexy costume some of you may have seen on stage.. so moderation is required there. If I'm not mentally fit, then shows become harder, I get anxious and confused and I don't sleep... so meditation, therapy sessions and maintaining a good social network is really important.
But all of this requires gigs to be there as the next milestone to meet. Without that, my life structure had completely fallen apart. And lockdown has brought all of this into focus with the return of the next gig.
So my next questions is : is this healthy and sustainable? My tentative suggestion would be.. no. It's not. So Lockdown.. while terrible and yet necessary to support the NHS has been a real wake up call for me. The possibility of maintaining a health and positive life structure BECAUSE I WANT TO not just because ohgodthenextshowisonsaturdayandaaarggh wasn't something that had occurred. This 3 month break where I was able to spend the time looking at what made me happy and be able to build on the other things in my life so I wasn't just a musician waiting for the next show has been truly useful. And it definitely isn't something I would have chosen to do (3 months off? Are you mad? What if no-one hires me ever again??!).
To bring this painful essay to a conclusion: I invite you the reader to look at the structure in your own life. What do you lean on to bring meaning into your everyday activities? Are you doing those activities to provide support to yourself.. or to just mark time until the next big event? And when that next show is taken away.. do you collapse and fall? Or do you stand tall?
*Side note - yes I haven't commented on the bloody awful financial situation or struggling to pay rent or the many many MANY families who have suffered, the families who have had to isolate and look after children while WFH, the DV victims trapped with their abusers, the BLM movement, the current UK government's decisions, or Dominic Cummings' ill-timed visit to his in-laws. . That doesn't mean I don't care about it.. but this is not a political blog. Take to Twitter for that!