What I'm thinking is how very many of the major big important things that define my life were things that other people dragged me into, directly or indirectly. Well, maybe not "dragged me into" -- maybe "looked out for my interests". Or had more faith in me than I myself do.
I'm in my wonderful apartment because Stephen and Scott renovated it thinking that I should be the tenant, and they got our mutual friends on board with these plans before I even knew of them. I resisted for a bit, but it was definitely the right move, and has changed much about my life for the better (I entertain at home now and cook a lot more). I dance Morris because at the end of every Border season (for which I play the bass drum) Michael would invite me to dance with the Braggarts in the spring. Every year I said no, I was too old to start, but then one year I said, "I'd like to come to practice maybe but I don't know about actually dancing out" and then by Mayday I was a Morris dancer. "We always knew you were," said Michael. I did not, needless to say.
I was only playing drum for border in the first place because Rick got this notion in his head that the Border team should have the sort of band they have in England, of random musicians from the community band, and he called me to play (along with a few other band musicians, but most of them didn't stick). Rick called me because I come every Mayday morning with my drum for the massed dances, because many years ago I was playing in a little pep band at the end of the AIDS walks and Stephen came by and stood for a while and then said, "You really know how to play that thing!" and then said I needed to come on Mayday morning. "With the bass drum?" I said, incredulous. "Absolutely," he said. Others disagreed that first year, but they've all come around now.
Honestly, I would have sought out none of this on my own.
I play in the police band because Inez was section leader of both the police band and the gay/lesbian band. She called me one Saturday morning and said the police band was in trouble for a bandshell concert that afternoon and could I come and play. "I can't sightread a concert!" I said. "Of course you can," said Inez. "I've been playing with you in the Freedom band for eight years and I've heard you sightread scores of times." So I sightread the concert, without a mistake actually, which I didn't know I could do. And then the police band started asking Inez all the time whether she could get me to play regularly and I kept saying no, I couldn't join yet another group, but at the time I lived only three blocks or so from the police station and one Thursday night Inez called me from the phone in the rehearsal room and said, "We're all set up here for you and we have a concert in two weeks" so I walked over about the time the rehearsal was starting, picked up a beater, and there I was.
No, I can't sing. No, I'm not really a musician. No, I can't sightread. No, I don't want to move. No, I'm too old to start to learn to dance Morris. No, I have an unusual voice that nobody wants to hear in a concert setting performance singing tight harmony. No, I'm not a tenor. No, I have a terrible musical ear. No, I'm not a geek and I don't know anything about system administration.
There are people who don't take no for an answer.
Even my current job, my big job switch, was a result of a former co-worker contacting me and convincing me that I should be working at Red Hat. I was not looking for this, not specifically.
So much of this, so much of my life, stems from my brief tenure in the Brown Band. This is why I was in the band: When I transferred to Brown, I was at an orientation party for transfer students. There was a woman there who had transferred the year before (and had played briefly in the band for a few weeks, but hadn't stayed.) I hadn't yet even met her. She was just watching me at the party, and she came up and said, "Have you ever played in a band?" I said that I had played cymbals in the marching band at my previous school, pretty much on a lark, and then my friends in the band convinced me to play some percussion in the wind ensemble, but that was also something of a lark and I'm not really a musician. "You should be in the Brown Band," she insisted. And she was right. I never would have considered such a thing. Really. Somebody I had never even met was looking out for me. More than I was looking out for myself.
I don't put tonight's performance in the same category of significance as my apartment or my job or what having played in my college band has brought to the rest of my life. But I'm seeing a pattern. I could add dozens of other examples, both large and small.
I still say this: No, I am not a singer.