Written by Chloe on Wednesday, November 10, 2010
My friend Dave, who accompanied me on my first wheelchair hike, plays viola for the Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra. He was able to get us tickets for yesterday’s "Schumann Celebration". I was not expecting paralysis to be any kind of focus for the evening.
There was a nice steep hill down from the parking lot. Alicia thinks I am destined for a high speed wheelchair crash one of these days. We met Dave in front of the concert hall. There I am in the pic, on the way in.
Once inside, Dave introduced us to a fellow viola player, and the four of us made our way to a little lecture hall for the pre-concert talk. She said to me "Don’t your arms get tired?" "Yes, they do; but my legs don’t", I replied, feeling genuinely sorry for people who have to walk around, thereby tiring out their legs. "I’ll push", she said, and there she was behind me before I could even open my mouth. "Oh! You don’t have anything to push with!" "That’s right", I replied," that way I don’t get pushed!" I am indeed glad that I opted out of getting push handles.
The pre-concert talk was by the contemporary composer Lawrence Dillon. His biographical composition depicting the life of composer Robert Schumann was to be the first item on the musical program. He talked about aspects of Schumann’s life, illustrating them with short snippets of his own composition which we were about to hear. Many things caught my attention: Schumann’s early partial paralysis of the right hand, the suicide attempts, the decline of mental health, the last few years in an insane asylum, the eventual general paralysis. Autopsy revealed a brain tumor.
Every time the word "paralysis" was mentioned, Dave and Alicia turned to look at me with funny little smiles. After about the twelfth time, I was thinking "Okay, that’s enough; knock it off already!"
At the end of the talk, Alicia asked a question about the structure of the composer’s musical form. I was pleased with the way she asked it. Lawrence Dillon has hearing loss. I felt that I had trained her well.
On the way in.
Then we made our way to the auditorium. The performance was awesome. Alicia gave both it and the composer a standing ovation. I no longer give standing ovations.
During the intermission Alicia and I compared notes on how the musical depiction of paralysis had moved us. She had felt the terror of it. For me it had been like a wave of bliss.
The last part of the concert comprised Schumann’s First Symphony. My mind was taken back to that first concert where I experienced wheelchair bliss, almost two years ago. The experience is no longer new. But it is still blissful.
After writing this, I checked back to my "Wheelchair Bliss" post and noticed from the pic that I had been wearing the almost identical outfit. The only differences are that I was still in my old clunker wheelchair back then, and I was not wearing a leg brace.
I also noticed that I had written about my feelings of conspicuity. Such ideas have long vanished.
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