What keeps me going
Recently, I've had a bit of trouble with depression. For a few weeks. Maybe a month. My back is still healing well, and I have friends that would do just about anything for me. I have a wonderful husband. I have a dog that needs to go on a diet, who follows me everywhere. Why a depression, and why now? I just lived through some pretty life-changing "disasters", and made it out alive and pretty-well intact.
I don't know all the answers. Hardly any, really. Most of life must have meaning but I'm surely still no expert. Most of it seems to just happen lately. Sometimes I feel that I'm not as "in control" as I once was, but really, was I ever in control? Or was I just younger and less observant? I opt for the latter.
Depression is awful, and it's weird in that it's not something that you can just put your finger on and tell yourself to "snap out of it." It can be chemical. It can be outside of you, or inside of you, or both.
OR, it can just HAPPEN. And in the worst cases, it can KILL.
So I moped around for the last few weeks. I had some pretty unpleasant days and even more unpleasant nights.
So: tonight I'm in bed trying to get off to sleep and I start to think about this day I just had. Nothing special? Every day is special, but I lately often miss the specialness of it, and for the last month or so I've missed a lot.
Then, I started to think about the emails I received just recently. I thought about the donations I received. I thought about the CD orders from different parts of the world. After all, I'm not at all rich (in the money department.) Actually I'm quite "poor", on a fixed income, so these orders and donations are food and rent and bills, the very stuff that keeps me going. My husband helps a lot, but is out of work right now. He's very determined, though. He'll have a job soon.
Anyway, tonight, instead of thinking about ME (which has lately led nowhere), I thought about these other people. Not about me. Other people. And so here I am at 1.30 am writing about it.
OTHER PEOPLE. The people that make up the unseen fabric of our lives. The friend who sends a check, clean out of nowhere, for $25, and the person who buys a few of my CDs because he has a friend who just loves my music. The person who just writes to me saying "I hope you feel better." The people who are caring and loving and kind. They have problems of their own. Sometimes they have problems that make my complaints seem insignificant. These are wonderful, generous, loving people, and they're my family, my one and only truly extended family.
There's not much to say, so I'll let a few of these other people say it. I've kept their anonymity, and I've struck some content out, the more personal comments and such. But just imagine—I get emails like this all the time. Short ones, long ones. Always so warm and friendly. And I realize that these aren't my customers, these are my friends. They're not fans. They're family. THEY ARE THE REASON I KEEP GOING, THE REASON I PLAY.
I can't guarantee that I'll wake up tomorrow NOT depressed, but I know I won't wake up AS depressed!
Date: Sept 20, 2014 - We in Melbourne Australia are probably the largest and oldest hifi / music club. This month we invited members to bring along their special music to share — the best reason to be in a club like ours. I chose TOUCH for its appeal to those who think they don't like jazz, and to show them what you can do, with love and skill in the service of the music. At the end they clapped. That doesn't happen. I told them they must buy . . . anything, and only from you direct. They are a slothful lot, but just perhaps . . . Regards, Pete ___ , Australia
Date: Sept 14, 2014 - Dear Jessica, Got your two CDs — you have my highest respect. (Thanks too for the free extra.) Monk said “Play yourself” and for my tastes, you’re the most unique pianist on today’s scene. Best, Michael
Date: Sept 10, 2014 - Ms. Williams: My wife and I are listening to you now as we contemplate a memorial service for our beloved friend, Rita ___, who passed away in San Francisco last February. You were a very important part of her life as she was to ours, and we just wanted you to know how much we are enjoying your music at this moment. We will be memorializing her life this coming weekend in Wisconsin, and you can be sure that we will be playing your music as we recall our great times together. Rob and Margaret ___
Date: Sept 2, 2014 - Thank you ma'am. I'm going to England next Saturday. My parents and I love your music. Hope you're doing better. Take care. Simon ___
Date: Sept 2, 2014 - Hello, I just wanted to tell you how much my family and I appreciate your album, Heartland. I have never heard anything quite like it. This album is constantly playing at my grandparents' house and in my car. I am a fourteen year old musician and I recommend your albums to my friends and teachers. Thank you for beautiful music! Your fan, Annika ___
Date: Aug 29, 2014 - Glad I could donate to your healing fund. Aren't loving life partners just the best? It took me a long time (till I was 57) to find one.... worth the wait, though, yes? And I am SO happy that you have found someone who cherishes and cares for you. A lot of other stuff falls into perspective. Take care, dear. Steven ___
Date: Aug 22, 2014 - Thank you for your wonderful cd's . . . my friend told me that this is as close to my favorite pianist (Bill Evans) as I will hear at this point in time - M Wall
Date: Aug 12, 2014 - As a supporter of a local jazz group, I've encouraged them to get you to do a concert here. However your medical problems prevented it. I hope you are doing better now. Keep playing and all the best for your future, Rollin ___
Date: May 12, 2014 - Jessica, I've been listening to "With Love" and wanted to tell you how much I enjoy it. Truly some beautiful, sensitive playing that reminds me in some places of Bill Evans. You said that your playing sounds different now, and you're right - it does sound different, but it's a beautiful different! Cynthia ___
Date: March 22, 2014 - Jessica, Thanks for your wonderful email and, also, for the free download, which I will do tonight or tomorrow! I was so surprised to see your email this morning. I am glad that, all this time, you’ve been living that connection to the music and the power of it and all of its possibilities to transform individual listeners and the world. Just what we’re here for – each other and life. So glad you are recuperating and that you have never given up. You’re passing your inspiration around. Thanks. I feel like there’s more and more I’d like to say, but it all comes down to a big bunch of gratitude that has no need for words. I know from your email and from your music that you know all about that. All the best to you, Ted ___
Date: Mar 21, 2014 - I was thinking I might not get return from you directly. To my surprise and to my pleasure, I could talk to you in person thanks to Internet. I wish you great happiness too. Thank you very much for your generous gifts in the name of music. Haruto ___, Japan
Date: Mar 2, 2013 - Hi Jessica, Your music is gorgeous and tactile, and your poetry is insatiable, raw, and vulnerable - almost clinical in its interior journey. Just wonderful! John ___, Dallas TX
Date: Feb 12, 2014 - Dear Jessica, I've been following your travails and longing for you to get back to playing your piano. I can't tell you how much I love your playing. It really inspires me. Not only have you incredible technique but the feeling and passion you convey really moves me. I live in Scotland but would dearly love to hear you play live here again one day. With love and wishes for pain free days sitting at your piano! Cindy ___, UK
Date: Oct 23, 2013 - Dear Jessica, With great joy I received your cds. Each one better than the other. I really appreciate the extra CD that came as a gift, but best of all was receiving an autographed CD. You music is fantastic, and I'm listening each one by day to spend several days with them. I hope one day go to a your live concert. Thank You and stay with health. Alexandre ___, Brazil
Date: Oct 21, 2013 - Hello Jessica, I am a huge fan of yours. Yes, I will now only buy from your website! …and I will spread the word. Abundant blessings to you and those you love, (Rev.) Robert ___, Archdiocese of Seattle
Date: Oct 10, 2013 - Dear Jessica, In gratitude for you and all you have done to make our lives happier. George ___
Date: Mar 20, 2013 - I have been listening to your music, Jessica. Thank you. It has had such a positive affect on my life. Regards, Jeff ___
Date: Mar 25, 2013 - Dear Jessica, The last house concert we went to was one of the most magical experiences of my life, and we would so love to come to the next one you have. Please let us know! Best to you, Heather ___
Date: Feb 21, 2013 - Dear Jessica, Wow, today I received the CDs I ordered from you, and as I took them out of the envelope I said to myself, "I know I ordered three, but there are four in here." So immediately I put your gift, "As Time Goes By," in and I've been listening for a while now...so sweet and lovely, as always you are..."The Way You Look Tonight"...so very dear. These are songs that have been a part of my whole remembered life. I can't wait to hear the ones I ordered, but your gift means much to me, so I started there. Thank you for signing the CDs...I know what it takes and what it means. Normally I don't care a bit for a performer's signature, but somehow it's different with just a couple of musicians who have touched my life over the years. You are one; just seeing that you wrote your name let's me feel just a bit closer to you, and I like that. I'll put the other CDs in my iTunes and listen during dinner. Thanks so much for an evening of comfort, light and grace. With gratitude and affection, George ___
I've been collecting letters like these all the way back to 2003! They're here, and I will continue to collect the most touching ones. It started out as a marketing tool. It's a healthy hobby now. Heck, it's a MISSION.
Thank the God Source for this kind of love and support. I am truly amazed at my luck, amazed at my life. And I'm convinced that most people are good at heart. Goodness! They're BEAUTIFUL!
Why do I play? Here's the reason, all on one page. And this is just a small sampling. Who's a lucky girl? I don't know anyone so lucky as I! - Jessica Williams, Sept 21st, 2014