“[Playing music together provides an] opportunity of stumbling into joy, of having an essentially unedited, fresh, and electric experience . . . [which] is key to the girls’ futures.” —June Millington, member of Fanny, cofounder of the Institute for the Musical Arts
The year I turned forty-three, I was in pain almost all the time. It wrapped like a mammoth hand around my right rib cage, squeezing, squeezing. The culprit: a sluggish gallbladder.
Pain is like a feral animal; it’s unpredictable. It’s not just the physical discomfort that’s so disruptive; it’s also the fear of the pain’s return. So even when I had a good day, I knew it was short-lived. Would I feel okay tomorrow? Was it something I did? Or something I ate? Pain made me feel old. It also made me acutely aware of my own mortality.
Finally, after eight months of trying to address the pain on my own, I had my gallbladder removed. It took another six months for my digestion to stabilize, and when I finally felt better, I was relieved, but also a little shell-shocked. What had just happened?
I shifted into taking-stock mode. I was almost forty-four years old, and ideally I still had half of my life ahead of me. How did I want to live it? And what were my regrets? Luckily, I didn’t have many. I was happily married, with two wonderfully spunky, smart, healthy, and kind daughters. My work as a writer, editor, and coach, despite not paying very well, gave me great pleasure. I reasoned that even the hard stuff I’d experienced in my life, which I would have gladly avoided if given the chance, had taught me something and had, as the saying goes, made me stronger.