When do I get to sing?

This is actually pasted from my journal. I realized I wanted to share it here.
I went to a choral concert with my friend P. yesterday, and then to Madison to a dance class. The concert was good, though a couple of pieces didn't go so well. The chorus on the whole was magnificent, and one of the pieces made me cry a bit, which is not something that normally (like, ever) happens to me. Part of it was the beauty of it all. The concert was in a basilica, the sound was beautiful, and it was all around me. I love live music, when it's really good.
Part of it was that I love singing in a choir. I grew up singing in a church choir, and for some time sang alto with my mother. I still sing with them when I go home for Christmas, though Mom has mysteriously become a soprano now. A couple of years back I sang in a community chorus. We had a fabulous director and learned 7 movements of Mozart's Requiem in nine weeks. Some of the choristers couldn't really read music and used rehearsal tapes to learnt their parts. I brought the score home, played my part on the piano, and sang along with a CD. The fugues were seriously challenging. I miss it dreadfully, the feel of the music around you, being not quite sure if you can hear your own voice or not, the magical endless moment when the world goes away and nothing exists but the music and the stick.
So by the fourth piece yesterday, I was sitting there contemplating my life and how I can fit singing back into it. Not car-singing, but real choral singing. And I can't see it. I'll be taking two classes soon, working full-time, volunteering at the Literacy center and the hospice on alternating weeks, and I will not give up dancing. And I can't see my life getting any freer in med school, and certainly not residency. When will I sing?
I wish more than anything that I could drop this, stay in library work, collect my big fat library paycheck and simply enjoy my hobbies. But I can't see doing that. It feels wrong. I'm saddened by it all. What are these choices I'm making? Why do I feel this calling? When do I get to sing?

Oh, and I want some really good cheese to go with my whine.

If it makes you feel any better one of my first-year medical student classmates is in a lovely and very accomplished classical chorus that I went to see at a church in Cambridge–very nice works by Bach. She will probably need to quit in second year, or third year at latest, unfortunately; still, the time of no-chorus might be shorter than you imagine. And there are lots of us who manage to combine art and science in one way or another; you might take more time to go through your classes, or arrange your life differently, or… who knows. But it can be done.
The question is not only when can you sing, but what will you sing about? To feel moved not only in an occasional way–ie., at this concert–but in a regular way–ie., in what you imagine of medicine–is not a different goal than your artistic goals; in some way it is the same. Perhaps that is why you are leaving the library. The pleasure of music can also be found in the stories patients tell or the deft movements of surgeons–or at least, sometimes. But then, not all music is good either. Is there that same pleasure in the library?
That said–this seems to be a constant theme for me lately, I think I'm having a major case of grass being greener–there are other alternatives besides medicine where you can care for people and probably have more time, nursing and/or nurse practitioner work among them, and there are many others too.

This is such a thoughtful reply to my whingey little post; thanks so much.
The truth is that there is no time in any career for all the hobbies that interest me. I sew, play the piano (seldom these days), do Scottish Country and Contra dance, and my husband and I did ballroom dancing for a while until he hurt his neck. It’s just my nature. Now school keeps us both too busy for that one. I used to do handspinning, and I miss that too, sometimes (except for the way the wool gets all over everything within a two-block radius of your house). There’s a part of me that still wants to buy a floor loom, though I’d have to set it up in the driveway, just to feel the shuttles flying back and forth. I stopped choral singing two years ago, first because I was recovering from surgery and then because rehearsals were on our ballroom dancing night. There are always tradeoffs. If I end up in school somewhere where there is no Scottish Country dancing, well, first of all, I’ll be shocked, but secondly, maybe I’ll squeeze a chorus back in.
I really thought about other fields of medicine. I discussed it with a therapist, looked at several fields and the scope of practice and the educational requirements, and they weren’t for me. I could be an RN in a year and a half if I quit my job now. But I think that, along with the pieces of helping people, health care, making a difference, etcetera, medicine enchants my puzzle drive. I have friends who are nurses, and saying, “Yes, I’ll write that down for you to ask the doctor,” would make me crazy. I know they often wonder “What the hell was he/she thinking when he/she ordered THAT?” I want to know what he/she was thinking. I want them to be wondering that about ME. I want to be the one driving the bus, not craning her neck in the back trying to see what’s on the road.
And ultimately, I’m willing to play tradeoff games with my hobbies to get there. I just have to complain about it now and then. Sooner or later that taffeta ballgown in my basement is going to be finished. I’ll just squeeze it in somehow. The same for choral singing. I’ll trade things around and squeeze it in somehow.
The thing about libraries is that the parts that are warm and fulfilling (reference work, etc.) doesn’t interest or challenge me. The technical work that I do (or rather, manage) now has some challenge to it, but the product just doesn’t seem worth the effort. Ooh, the e-mail is faster now. Hey, there’s an extra search feature in the catalog now that only the librarians care about. Whoopee.
I’ve been dodging the sacrifices of the medical field for most of my life, thinking it was too hard or I couldn’t do it or them grapes are sour anyway and now I’m too old. While pursuing other things, I gradually wiped out all my excuses. My memory is better than it’s ever been, thanks to the dancing. My health is really good now, because I worked at that for its own sake. I think riding my bike to work ALMOST the whole winter was one of the many things that showed me I had more self-discipline than I thought. And I came home from one doctor’s appointment too many saying, “Is it too much to ask for my doctor to be smarter than I am?” I’ve felt this calling off and on for a long time, and I can’t drown it out with excuses anymore.
I’m not really going to turn away from it again just to hear that magical tritone in my head when a large chorus sings an octave. I’ll just have to make it all fit, now and then, when time allows. And perhaps I can choose a specialty with relatively predictable evenings off, so I can rehearse again some day. I’ve done without a chorus for a decade at a time. And while I can, I’ll go home for Christmas and sing with my mom. You don’t get that big-choir harmony rush, but it brings me to tears every time, just the same. If you’re ever in New Orleans on Christmas Eve, stop by St. Augustine’s church for midnight mass. Back in the choir loft you’ll see a couple of sopranos singing, “Angels we have heard on high”, their arms around each other, tears streaming down their faces, occasionally dropping into alto just because they can and it’s more fun that way. That’s Mom and me.
It’ll do.

I sooo know what you’re feeling same…I used to draw, sing in choir, act, figure skate, and dance. I moved to Colorado 5 years ago in order to figure skate. Unfortunately it’s a very, very expensive sport and my money ran out about a year into serious training. So I have all the clothes, and a great pair of $500 skates barely broken in sitting in my closet just waiting for me to get all the way through med school so I can retake the sport up again. I miss singing and acting…I’d love trying out for some of the plays at my school but there’s just no way I can make the time commitment to a show and get the grades I’ll need to get into med school. I have decided to slowly start fitting dance back into my life starting with fall semester tho. I used to dance like 5 hours/day before I moved out here, but since I haven’t really found a place that was a good fit for me, and money is always an issue for me I didn’t get back into it, but I’m going to commit myself to taking a ballet class at school twice per week for an hour. That was always such a good stress reliever for me and I just haven’t been doing so good at relieving those stresses lately. Who knows…maybe I’ll actually manage to get back in shape biggrin.gif
It is very hard at times, but I just keep reminding myself why I’m going thru it all and that once it’s done I can have everything again laugh.gif
Hang in there!
–Jessica, UCCS