Evan Hatfield is a sophomore journalism major and writes "Never Being Boring" for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Evan at erhatfield@bsu.edu.

Evan Hatfield

When I walked into Sursa Hall more than a week ago for a choir concert, I couldn't help but notice something seemed different.

As I showed the usher my ticket and settled into my seat, I continued to consider what had changed.  Sursa Hall seemed as familiar as it's ever been: warm, welcoming, the perfect place for a choir concert.

It took a few minutes for me to realize that perhaps it wasn't Sursa Hall that had changed. It was me that had changed.

Choir was one of the biggest parts of my life from sixth grade on up.  Some things may have changed through the years — the people around me, the kinds of music we sang, the dilemmas I had to put up with outside of choir — but being in some sort of choir remained a constant in my life … until now, that is.

I kept choir in my schedule for the sake of familiarity when I came to Ball State last fall.  It was as fun as choir had ever been, but I had to eventually come to the terms that it wasn't the same sort of experience I had with choir in high school.  

I loved the program, to say the least. The directors were all great in what they did, the music was some of the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to sing and the people in the program were wonderful. The problem was my own mindset; I was attached to the power of the music in the same way I’d been for years, but otherwise, I didn't think much of my experience in the program.  

There’s something to be said for knowing when the time has come to keep moving forward in life. It’s a hard feeling to admit, especially knowing that what you're leaving behind has been such an integral part of how you go about life. It's even harder when you know there’s a good handful of people from your life out there that would prefer for you to maintain the status quo. 

The bigger problem lies in how to go about it all when that time does come. It's a painful feeling at first, but it can't be denied.  

Part of me would like to think of my stepping away as giving someone else a turn in the musical spotlight, so to speak. Being in choir changed my life; who's to say it couldn't change someone else's life for the better?  

For all I try to rationalize my internal feelings, it doesn't change the fact that the decision is long since over. For the moment, for better or worse, I am just a witness to the music.

It’s a surreal feeling, getting to see an activity you’ve been a part of for so many years from the other side of things. I wasn't at this concert as part of the performance, I wasn't there because a good friend was in the performance, I wasn't even there for a class … I was just there.

When you’ve been in a program like choir for long enough (or any sort of organized activity, for that matter), you get a real feeling for what's going on that you might not otherwise have. As I waited for the concert to start, I pictured being back in the choir room for the pre-concert pep talk. I chuckled as if I’d just been let in on some private joke when the program started more than five minutes behind schedule. I imagined the hectic goings-on backstage as the stage crew frantically took down chairs and music stands so the choirs could take the stage.  

And then the music started. 

I hadn't thought about choir in months, but I was back in the zone within moments — it felt like I’d never left.  Questions of ‘what if?’ started to flood through my mind. What if I’d stayed in Concert Choir?  What if I’d tried to audition for Chamber Choir? What if I at least kept men's choir in my schedule?  

Memories of music past flooded my mind at the same time: the madness of hours upon hours of traveling to Illinois as part of my high school's vocal jazz group, the ever-crazy rush leading up to concerts, the pure emotion I often felt while I was singing the music on stage.

Suddenly, I realized just how much I missed this. Here was something that had been part of my life for such a long time, and yet, I'd walked away from it at the end of the last school year without much of a thought.  

Not long after that, the reality set in; the music never left me. It was me who left the music.  

I’m still a choir kid in some senses, I suppose. When I hear a song on the radio, I’m instantly in the “music nerd” zone, analyzing the song up and down trying to pick out the harmonies or the bass line so I can sing along (such are the joys of having a low voice). I still get annoyed when people clap along to the first and third beats of a song (let's face it, clapping on the second and fourth beats sounds so much better).  I’ll even occasionally find myself yearning for the past, going back to listen to the recordings from my high school concerts (almost drowning myself in nostalgia in the process).

I don't deny missing choir.  For all the drama and madness that often ensued, it was still one of the best parts of life for me.  Even in spite of that, I don't think there's any sort of void to fill in my life right now. My love for music is still there, just as it ever was. I just choose to express it in a different way for the time being.

And who's to say what the future holds? There's nothing stopping me from coming back to all of this some day (and I’m sure my high school choir teacher wouldn't have it any other way). I can only hope I’ll get the chance to do that.  

When I left Sursa that day, the weather and everything else around me mirrored how I felt having to leave choir behind again: cold, gloomy, perhaps even lonely. I walked back to DeHority Complex deep in thought; it was in those thoughts I eventually managed to find some comfort. Though choir may be out of my life for now, at least I’ve got seven years or so of good memories to fall back on.  So long as I have those, I’m content.