Friday, August 9, 2013

Band Camp 2/2: The Sinusoidal Path

Full title: “The Sinusoidal Path of the Vinyl Eel’s Blue-Shirted Frosties.”

I just lost band camp by four points.

Recap: We started the week in fourth, jumped to first and extended our lead helped by my Tuesday birthday luck, and then suffered a massive defeat on Wednesday during the Scavenger Hunt - though, since the scores weren’t added in until later, it looked as though we were doing well up to today, Friday, when we were a solid third place.

It’s probably my fault that we lost. We should have done more videos for the Scavenger Hunt - I should have organized the team better - rallied more people to stay - and we did very poorly during Thursday’s Olympic events probably because I distributed people poorly in relay events.

In other respects, I think I was a good captain. Our compulsories were all right, averaging second or third place, and we did decently well in drill down. One of our freshman girls thanked me today, at the pool party after we’d found out that we finished fourth, for being the captain.

Really, Scavenger Hunt was what did us in. And that one’s on me. But I find, to my surprise since I usually seize every opportunity to hate on myself, that I’ve already gotten over the defeat.

I’m staring at the computer screen as I type this, wondering if I’m telling the truth. Yes. I am, and it’s surprising because I’m competitive as hell, I love to win, and I absolutely have something to prove - or I had. Because I don’t anymore, and I think Wednesday was when it was all over already.

Let me tell you about Wednesday.

We started the day with a lead. Then our compulsories didn’t go well, and the band director seemed to be picking on us in drilldown - I know how it sounds, like I’m blaming someone else, but it would be something he’d do, try to beat down the first place team to make it a more even race. Then there was Scavenger Hunt, on which we did poorly.

Some of the seniors from last year visited for Scavenger Hunt, and I don’t know what - something in what they said? How they acted? - maybe I was being paranoid - I felt that they…disapproved of me, somehow. That I was the high-strung bitch who deserved to be taken down a peg. Or maybe I was projecting my own insecurities onto them?

Anyway, Wednesday sucked. Wednesdays usually do. I came home exhausted physically (from running around town) and emotionally (from beating myself up over having failed my team) and proceeded to write the filth out of my blood. For an hour.

And I let go.

Band Camp is about the team. My team is probably the second most close-knit, and we worked well together as a team. Maybe the leader (me) could have done a better job. But all the ways we failed were on me, and so the team was a success. I put together a great squad, a squad that I did not deserve, and we did our level best. We've done our best constantly, from the first day we assembled last Tuesday, and on Thursday as all the captains wandered around a party store getting prizes I was racked with indecision because I do, honestly, completely, believe that at least eighty percent of my team deserved some recognition, and it kills me that I wasn't able to acknowledge everyone’s efforts.

So we ended up in last place. When our band teacher announced the rankings in reverse order, the other captains were nervous. I was, to my shock, not. Our name came first, meaning we’d gotten fourth. I found out ten minutes later we were four points behind the third place team, and I figured out that it was because of Scavenger Hunt. But this was no surprise, since I knew we had not done well on that - that I had not done a good job on that.

I thanked my co-captain, who will do a better job next year. I was thanked by one of my freshmen. I shook hands with the first place team’s captain, our drum major. I was relieved not to have to be opponents to my lower brass family (the reappearance of my trombone brother, whom we all thought was transferring to another school, probably had a huge influence on my mental equilibrium).

Admittedly, I spent the time between leaving the pool party and getting home in a bad mood. But it’s gone now and I feel…I feel fine. Did I have something to prove? Yes, but why? Was I going to base my sense of self-worth on the band camp results? Am I a worse person for having lost?

After my spiel on Tuesday about how I don’t think people come of age, it’s ironic that I’m partially taking back what I said before. Character development is incremental, perhaps, but it’s not as smooth as the logarithmic curve. We advance in jumps - punctuated equilibrium holds true for individuals as well as species. I feel as though I’m a better person now than I was on Monday, July 29, when the last band camp of my life began.

As last week’s post indicates, captaining a team is incredibly difficult and stressful for an introvert - at first. Then I got used to it, got used to high-fiving and knuckle-touching my team members, calling commands, clapping lefts, not getting angry when underclassmen mess up, encouraging reasonable suggestions, giving credit where credit is due, balancing self-deprecation with self-respect (in front of my team, at least).

Rilke: “We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.”

Solitude is not too difficult for an introvert. Owning that introversion while also behaving as a “public figure”, an “elected official”, a leader, is, as I have said, a harrowing experience. I’m glad I’ve gone through it, though. I’m glad to have had the privilege of putting myself to the test. Would it have been awesome to win? Yes. But I am in the process of grokking Marcus Aurelius, as I suspect I always shall be, and one could do worse than take two weeks to learn how to lose with dignity.

Perhaps I make too much of two weeks in the summer before my senior year of high school. But few people who know me in real life would accuse me of being a drama queen, and it’s always been my way to attribute greater significance to events than they deserve. Why not live your life like an epic? Einstein: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” We rose; fell; rose again; fell again, but fell gracefully, like a diver in deep waters. Sinusoidal.

We fought the good fight. We lost. I’m still damn proud of my team, and even though I’m sure that none of them will ever read this post, I want to put this out there:

Dear Frosties,

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Your Captain

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