What is Your Passion?

I love the commercials that end with “what’s in your wallet?”.  How about “what is your passion?”. In retirement, mine is simple. Music. Not performance, but brass instruments. Specifically, trumpets, cornets, and flugelhorns. Last year, I had a trumpet made that I designed.

I could describe it to you in excruciating detail and tell you all that went into its creation. Hours of work spanning 4 to 5 years. Hundreds of hours determining its specifications. Countless hours spent emailing and phoning strangers who guided me educated me and provided their insight, all without compensation. I was able to form bonds with complete strangers over a shared love of brass instruments. In many ways, the community of brass instrument repairers and developers is more close-knit than the community of musical performers. Performers need design and repair people, the reverse is not true.

Recently, I reconnected with a woodwind man I hadn’t seen in decades. He has been a guest conductor in the UK, Europe, the Netherlands, and behind the old Iron Curtain. Oh, I forgot, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center also. I guess you could say he’s been successful.

After we caught up and relived the past we spoke of the present. After a life on the road, he taught Jazz Musicology at two different universities. We’re both retired. He still performs in Pennsylvania and North Carolina just because he wants to.

Two different individuals, two different career paths, each with a shared passion in retirement that we shared in our youth. Music. When I told him about my trumpet design, he almost fell over. He demanded details, photos, etc. I gladly complied.

Why share this with you? Simple. Find or rediscover your passion. Don’t wait for the future. Do it now. Had I continued my passion for music while I still practiced psychiatry, I would have more fully benefited from the combined experience. Fortunately, I didn’t miss out entirely. I nurture my soul now. As is often said, “better late than never”.

A few days ago, my wife and I attended a concert by the Baroque Orchestra. Between selections, I whispered to her about the orchestra’s use of Eb and piccolo trumpets during various selections and why they were used. It wasn’t difficult. I had a teaching assistantship in the music department at my undergraduate school. I was a math major who taught “Intro to Music” to freshmen. Music has always been a part of me.

Walking home from the concert I said that I wished I had studied musicology in depth. She asked if I meant instead of practicing psychiatry. Heavens no. I should have done both.

“What is your passion?”

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