Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Recapitulation or Reversal?

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Folks, I’ve come to a fork in the road.

Earlier this year, I discussed what it felt like to be dismissed from the Racine Concert Band. I’d been in that band on and off since I turned fourteen, played three different instruments in it at various times, soloed on all three instruments in front of the band, and done everything I possibly could to represent the band well.

Being told I was no longer welcome was a major reversal.

Suddenly, a bedrock of my life was no longer there. Even though I’d had previous experience with bedrocks not being there (what else could I call widowhood, except that?), it stung to know that people I’d known most of my life had no compassion or understanding.

When you’re hurting, whether it’s from physical illness, depression, protracted grief, or anything else, you need both of those things in order to heal. You also have to learn how to be compassionate toward your own self — something I’ve found incredibly difficult — as you struggle with it all.

“But Barb,” you ask. (Yes, I can hear you.) “What’s this bit about recapitulation about?”

In music, recapitulation is a statement of the main theme, usually toward the end of a movement or piece. (For the musicians in the audience, yes, I know full well I’m oversimplifying.) In writing, a recap is restating the main points of whatever your argument is, and a recap often summarizes that selfsame argument.

Basically, I’m trying to figure out what my life means now that my time in the RCB is over.

As my Facebook motto says, I’m a writer, editor, musician and composer. I am all these things, and I will always be all of these things.

Eventually, I hope to play again in some sort of band or orchestra. Music feeds the soul (as my friend Lika has put it so well), and right now my inner self feels very far from fed.

For now, though…I continue to work, slowly, on my various musical compositions. (I write melodies first, and fight with harmonies later. I know that sounds odd — harmony isn’t supposed to be a struggle! — but the melodies come very easily to me, while the harmonies don’t.) I continue to work on my writing, too, while also editing, proofreading, or doing whatever I can to aid another writer and/or editor providing it won’t drive me straight into the ground.

I guess, if I had to pick one of the above — reversal or recapitulation — I’d go for the recap instead. At least with the recap, you’re hitting the high points…and if you’re talking about yourself, in your own life, sometimes reminding yourself there have actually been high points is necessary.

Especially when you’ve dealt with too many reversals, too quickly, to be borne.

What have you done, when you’ve come to a fork in the road? Or when you’ve had too many reversals hit you, all at once? Please tell me, in the comments…as at the moment, I feel akin to someone shouting into the void.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 18, 2022 at 4:06 am

2 Responses

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  1. They say flipping a coin can be good, because the moment you toss the coin into the air, you’re thinking, “I hope it lands on ____.” And that is your answer.

    Making some decisions are a snap. Others take time. Here are 3 ideas for you.

    #1 Consider these questions:
    1. What about this do I need to quit?
    2. What about this do I need to keep?
    3. What about this do I need to question?

    #2 Look at the pros and cons of each side. Draw a line down a piece of paper, write pros on one side and cons on the other. Then I brainstorm what the results could be from both ways of looking at the situation.

    #3 Brainstorm questions to ask yourself. Do *not* answer them. Just write each and move quickly to the next one. This isn’t the time for introspection. That comes later. For now, just get all the questions you can think of out of your head and onto paper. It’s good to hand write if possible. Writing by hand uses a different part of the brain from writing on a computer or phone. Example:
    If I do X, how will it make my mother feel?
    If I do X, what will it cost me financially?
    If I do X, how long do I want to keep doing it?
    Do I want X to know I’m doing this?
    Why do I think X is a good idea?
    The goal is to write as many questions as possible. A “brain dump” of thoughts.

    Put it aside for half a day, or a full day. Reread the questions. Do *not* answer them. Any other questions come to mind? Add them to the list.
    Go away again.
    When you come back and reread the questions the second time, the very questions themselves often give you the answer. Are they positive? Negative? Ambivalent? Do you immediately know the answers?

    The three questions about what to quit, keep, and question are wisdom I gained from watching Becca Syme’s QuitCast. I highly recommend checking them out.

    Kayelle Allen

    October 18, 2022 at 8:35 am

    • That sounds like it’s doable, Kayelle.

      I’ll take a look at Becca Syme’s QuitCast, too.

      The last time I felt like I was at such an impasse, it was before Michael and I had come to an accord. (He was in my life, as a friend, but had not declared himself, nor had I realized I had anything other than platonic feelings for him.) I did something similar to what you’re describing, then…I thought about the questions for three days, IIRC.

      The good news is that I am working on my writing and music composition, even if both are slow. I’m also doing what I can to realize that I’d be kinder to someone else in this position than I am to myself…but sometimes the habits of a lifetime are not that easy to set aside. (I’m still going to try, though. No other way to go about it.)

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, Kayelle.

      Barb Caffrey

      October 18, 2022 at 3:09 pm

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