Potential is a Bad Word

After 19 years, I’ve finally identified the feeling I’ve had about my Bluecoats rookie-ageout season: Regret.

I sat with it for a few days last month and came to terms with the fact that I had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and didn’t actually prepare for it. Was I present in the moment while I was there, giving my all during rehearsals and performances? Absolutely. But did I prepare? Did I condition myself physically, make and save extra money for free days and laundry and miscellaneous expenses, call ahead to resolve transportation issues, practice my mello in the music building on campus to get my chops ready?

Nope. That wasn’t the “fun part,” so I didn’t bother.

The only way to resolve this feeling was to come to terms with the fact that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is gone. A memory. It was what it was, and although it was amazing in its own way, I didn’t make everything of it that I could have.

(I also resolved some of my angst by Facebook Messaging one of the veteran members of the ‘97 corps who had actually been friendly and welcoming, and thanked him for that, some 19 years after the fact. He was grateful to hear it, and pointed out that his own rookie year had been rough. It was then that I realized that I never got the true “rookie” corps experience in my first corps, Northern Aurora, since the 1995 corps was comprised of 80% rookies who were all in the same boat.)

I even tried to recapture the drum corps experience later in life by joining senior corps, and that failed miserably. I still didn’t practice at home very much, I was still overweight and out of shape, and it certainly didn’t help that I spent three hours in the car round-trip every time we had a rehearsal or performance.

This tendency to put off the un-fun parts is kind of a theme in my life, whether it’s nutrition and fitness or cleaning house or writing documentation at work or skipping class back in college. I’m a grown-ass woman now, not a 21-year-old kid (who doesn’t realize she’s still a kid). I’m a mother and a wife and an IT professional, and my responsibility game has leveled up a few notches in the past couple of decades. I’m responsible for my son, for my share of the household bills and chores, and for my work.

I can start being responsible for Future Me, too.

P.S: The title of this post references a theme in the 1996 Northern Aurora season. The staff got the corps together around midseason, as I recall, and told us that we were getting lots of comments from judges about the show having “potential,” and how we should be fired up to realize that potential. “Potential” became the watchword during rehearsals — the staff would just say it over the loudspeaker, and we’d hiss in response, and step up our game. “Potential” meant our show was well-written but not (yet) well-executed. It meant we just had to do the work to realize that potential.

I’m not sure we ever truly realized our potential that year, but we came close.

3 thoughts on Potential is a Bad Word

  1. Diana,

    You probably don’t remember me, to be honest I only vaguely remember you. I was a contra player. I joined the corps the camp before Memorial day and bailed out in late July (more on that later)

    I was browsing the web looking for stuff on the 97 Bluecoats and stumbled across your blog. I first found your post on the picture day free day. I remember that day, but not the same events.

    I quickly found your post from today and wow did it hit home. I was never fully committed to the Coats and looking back now do I ever regret it. I was a member of the Scouts the previous summer, but an injury kept me from marching just before the season started. I tried out again for the Scouts in 97, but because I was lazy, over confident, and stupid I didn’t make it. I was offered a spot at SCV, but could not afford to go to camps. I was not going to march, but last minute decided to go to Canton. My heart was never in it. I thought I was better than Bluecoats and it had a serious affect on my attitude. I liked some people, but hated the show, the work, the grind. Your entire post struck such a chord with me about my time in the corps. Oh, if I could do it all over again.

    Anyway, thanks for a great if not humbling post and a bit of therapy. I hope all is well

    Matt O’Connell

    • Minnesota Matt! I do remember you; your departure from the corps was one of the few events that made it into my written journal of that summer, actually. I obviously wasn’t having the best time, either, and I recall being just a little jealous and trying to figure out how you’d managed to arrange your departure under cover of a bathroom break. 🙂

      • I am honored, intrigued, and slightly frightened by what is in that journal entry.

        You have my e-mail. I would love to catch up in a slightly less public forum if you are interested. Drop me a message.

        Minnesota Matt (haven’t been called that in 19 years)

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