Abandoned dollhouse, October 2020

This dollhouse appeared about a month ago on garbage day on a street nearby. For whatever reason, it caught my eye. Was it the empty rooms, waiting to be filled? The half-painted walls that seemed to be looking for an upgrade? Was it the metaphorical relationship between this house and my own house, which I had just finished doing a major renovation on, that seemed to indicate a fresh start? Whatever the reason, today when considering my topic for a blog post, it popped into my mind.

I’ve been unable to practice much the last couple of weeks. There always seems to be something else (more important?) to do, or I just don’t want to get into it. There’s always a reason somehow. So I’ve had some time this week to reflect on this, because–as usual–such topics have come up in my studio teaching too. Unsurprisingly in these unsettling times, many students have felt overwhelmed, questioning their chosen path (will performances remain virtual forever? can I ever make a living at this?) and also feeling isolated, disconnected, worried for the future. And yet, it occurs to me that sometimes these feelings of unrest can be windows of opportunity, empty rooms in need of remodelling. We can literally get into some serious home improvement, some of which starts with stripping things back to the bare studs.

This “stripping back” can also mean that there is a time of emptiness where nothing happens at all (apparently). Where feelings can emerge, where new ideas can form, where a new avenue of expression can present itself. We are heading into that traditionally dark time of winter, where we as Canadians tend to cocoon and retreat. And this time of being in the emptiness can be a time of change, of quiet growth and exploration, where new potential germinates. So instead of beating up on myself (again!) for not practicing, I can spend time contemplating the bare walls of my internal singing self. Singing will come again when it’s time.