Last night I played Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D Major with the New Mexico Philharmonic, our local professional orchestra. Matt was the guest conductor, our fifth gig together with the Phil. There was the usual publicity hoopla around the concert: “Matthew Greer to conduct impressive pianist and wife,” read the press release (Really?). There was an article in the Albuquerque Journal, multiple Facebook posts, posters and emails. Before a recent Philharmonic concert, my face was projected on a huge screen above the orchestra. It was life-size, if I was the size of the Empire State Building.

In other words, this was a good week to weed the garden.

This is not just a metaphor. It is mid-February, in our high desert climate this means it is time to clean up the garden for another season. Time to clear flowerbeds of leaves and dead stalks and to pull up the first round of weeds. Time to cut back lavender and yarrow. Time to prune the rose bushes.

My garden goals last week were modest: filling a wheelbarrow full of leaves and debris, tackling the weeds growing in the cracks along the sidewalks and driveway, cleaning out the irises under the bedroom windows. In addition to my daily yard chores, I went to yoga classes, swam my laps, fed the cats. I answered email, put in my time on the meditation cushion, watered the plants and taught my lessons. In many respects, it was just another week.

Of course, performance weeks aren’t quite all business as usual. Inevitably, I find my attention in short supply, my mind preoccupied, worrying over musical details like tempi and phrasing. I can weed, yes, but redesign the flowerbed inside the courtyard, not so much. These kinds of weeks can be great for sorting through the medicine cabinet and tossing out the expired bottles of aspirin, but untangling the complicated mess of the previous year’s receipts, no way.

Weeding the garden is also a metaphor worth pondering in times like this. There is a lot—too much—hype around being a performer (Truth be told, thanks to social media there is too much hype in being a human being these days.). “Are you ready?” everyone—students, friends, colleagues, my mother—asked as if I was preparing to scale El Capitan. After seeing the documentary Free Solo about the kid who does indeed climb El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes, I have developed a new perspective about the level of risk in what I do. Perhaps playing a concerto is not actually like flying without a net after all.

However, some of the pre-concert chatter is justified, for sure; there is an unavoidable vulnerability that comes with surviving any big public performance. And hype is what the likes of publicity and platforms like social media are all about. Hype sells tickets and creates buzz. Hype generates excitement and enthusiasm. It’s not all bad.

But there’s hype and there are the concrete details that give our lives and practices honesty. And at home, with the Haydn score in front of me, hype is pretty useless. I need to work with the metronome, employ rhythms in that gnarly spot in the third movement, check the memory in the first cadenza. The litter box needs to be cleaned. The kitchen sink is full of dishes. I should read through sonatinas and pick a new one for my four o’clock student. This is not hype. These are the ordinary specifics that make up my days and hours.

Haydn’s last piano concerto is a playful, exuberant romp. One can easily imagine that Haydn must have found pleasure in every ordinary thing, for there is nothing more ordinary than the D major themes he employs in this concerto. And yet, under his skillful compositional treatment, there is nothing less ordinary. As one happy tune follows another, Haydn reminds us that life should be celebrated, moment after joyful moment.

“You’re impressive wife is doing your laundry,” I texted Matt earlier this morning. Last night’s dress is back in the closet. There are the annual tax chores to begin this week. We need to call the roofer again. The alarm will go off tomorrow morning at 5:15 so I can get to the pool and swim my laps. Time to weed the garden.

“Thanks, impressive wife,” he texted back. “Tonight: Dinner. You. Me. Two cats. You in?”

Yes, please.