First, a bit of background.

It is only April and already this year seems exhausting. No doubt this is our fault, but both Matt and I have been keeping a schedule that is simply not sustainable long term. We’ve gone too many weeks without any real days off, had too many late night meetings and rehearsals, and too many early mornings. We can’t exactly point to any particular reason for any of this, just the normal stuff that makes up our lives and work, and perhaps an unfortunate alignment of the stars. Or maybe a general unrealistic idea about how many hours a day holds.

Needless to say, we are cranky and irritable. We whine a lot about how busy we are. We coexist with kind of a glazed look in our eyes. Lately, I’ve noticed that when someone starts to ask me about something—could be anything: could I judge a festival, or accompany a student contest, or even something as friendly as: could I have lunch—I find myself almost choking on my own panic and forming the word NO before the inquiry is even finished. This is no way to live.

And then, yesterday, this happened:

It was Bobby, my last lesson of the day. I was tired (see above). Bobby is an 8thgrader, the youngest of three kids. I began teaching his older sisters when he was a baby crawling under the piano during their lessons. Bobby loves birds, quiz bowl and piano, equally. This was the kid who, once when I asked him to pick his favorite piece in a particular collection to review, sighed and said, “How do I choose? I love them all.” Yesterday he had forgotten the book containing his favorite piece because he was “practicing just before I came. I bet it is still on the piano.” He shrugged.

This annoyed me, in spite of the evidence that the kid was practicing. As I went to draw his practice chart in his notebook, I explained to Bobby how I was not going to be at his lesson next week because I had to be in Santa Fe. “Why?” he asked. “Because I have to play a concert,” I responded. “Cool,” he said. Yes, I said, but, you know, it’s work. It’s what I do. It’s not a fun day in Santa Fe or anything.

“But Amy,” he interrupted, “you get to play the piano. You love doing that.”

This shut me up.

You get to play the piano. You love doing that.

He’s right, of course. Drowning in my own self-pity and exhaustion, I had almost forgotten this simple fact: I am a working musician. All day, every day, I get to play the piano and I love doing that. Moreover, people pay me to do that.

Wow.

Any real examination of the last few months should only make me squirm with embarrassment at how rich and blessed my life is. Yes, I played the piano. A lot. But we also hosted Voces8, the wonderful British a cappella group, for a week in March (They were amazing.). My mother and I went to Charleston for five days for a house and garden tour (It was amazing.). Matt and I had an overnight at Tamaya resort, one of our favorite places on the planet (Also, amazing.). A couple of girlfriends and I spent a Saturday visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, then drove to O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu (SO amazing), and ended the day at Ojo Caliente, a hot springs spa in northern New Mexico (Yes, amazing). My best friend came for a visit. I read about two dozen books and spent countless happy hours in the garden. At this very moment my amaryllis is in full glorious bloom and the tulip bulbs a friend brought me back from Amsterdam last fall are about to burst open in the flowerbed along the driveway.

And I get to play the piano. I love doing that.