Long ago in my life, I always wanted to play in a big band. Loving music, I wanted to do everything I saw anybody do in music, whether it was dancing, singing, playing an instrument, acting – you name it.
It came to pass that a big band guitar player happened to call and ask if I would like to play with the Moonlighters Big Band. I thought, “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I don’t have a college education.” But I jumped in anyway.
There are so many lessons I learned – I say Life Lessons in having taken that leap — but I’m here to share this one.
The family I grew up in was very affectionate with hugs and kisses, always saying good night, good morning, and I love you. We were interested in each other – and close.
When I began with the band, there were 17 men and one woman – me. I was so thankful to get to play in a big band that when I went to rehearsal, I hugged any man who came close to me. (No sex intended.)
Ralph, an old saxophone player who had been with the band for years, was included in my hugs. Yet he may have been afraid of his wife Bernice’s reaction.
One day, Ralph said to me, “Don’t hug me; my wife is jealous.” And so, I never hugged him again. Meanwhile, I wondered if I had done something wrong by innocent hugs.
This absence of hugs with him went on until Ralph died. The band held a wake for him with all of us band members playing. I suggested to Bernice that she could continue coming to the rehearsals, which she did.
I also invited Bernice to assist me with the large cumbersome books. As my sight diminished, driving to rehearsals was impossible, and she graciously started driving me to and from the rehearsal hall.
She described her life with Ralph, and there was never any hint of jealousy from her. I wondered, “What does this mean?” I could only guess at Ralph’s motivation to deny hugs. Did he not like them? Did he believe that Bernice was jealous, when she may not have been? Was he embarrassed? Did he come from a “cold” family environment?
The point of the whole event for me was that if I believed Bernice to be jealous and rejected her because of this, I would never have had her friendship. She became essential in finding the current song in one of the gigantic music books for me as well as driving me to rehearsals and gigs.
The teachings I have come to embrace were of value to me. Being open to see “what’s really going on,” I came to question Ralph’s claim of Bernice’s jealousy. I had accepted his words at face value.
I’ve heard the Bible mention something about “hearsay,” but I never knew what that word meant. How often have I shunned some people because of the gossip I have heard from others. The gossip is only how those others may see them. It’s not for me to “believe” what they say, but to find out for myself. This lesson has come to me frequently through the years.
There are so many beautiful people in the world. I would like to discover them on my own, rather than listen to others’ opinions, conclusions, preferences, and conditioning.
Since both Bernice and Ralph have passed away, all I can say is they were some of my teachers in this “Life School.” I’ll continue to use this open approach and my own judgment when I am no longer sequestered because of Covid and can again be out there with real living beings – not virtual!