It's Halloween-Time to Face My Fears!

What’s your worst nightmare?

What scares you to death leaving you in tears at the very thought of it?

Most people have at least one crippling fear.

It could be a fear of heights or a fear of the dark. Some are afraid of snakes or public speaking.

This week I've had to face one of my greatest fears. Only something as important to me as the TSO Halloween Concert would make me even consider doing this.

I’m embarrassed to say that facing this thing I swore I'd NEVER do, has literally reduced to tears.

It all started a few years back. I fell in love with our Halloween concerts. They are so much fun. My favorite part is wearing all the costumes of the characters we're portraying in the music we play.

For this year's 'Princesses and Superheroes' theme, I'm going all out. I'm impersonating Batman, Superman and Mr. Incredible (among others). But this presents a serious problem.

Though these superheroes have fantastic eyesight, I do not!

I used to have good eyes. I didn't grow up wearing glasses. But when I reached my forties, the necessity of wearing glasses became unavoidable.

If Superman was an orchestra conductor, he could soar around the concert hall and still see his music. 'Super' eye-sight and X-ray vision are good for that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, I can't see my music without my glasses. And a conductor who can't see his music is like a driver who can't see the road. You might make it to your destination, but you'll cause all kinds of collisions along the way.

Apart from the practical issue of seeing my music, I can't be Batman with a pair of dorky glasses over my mask. Not cool at all. The caped crusader would NEVER commit such a fashion faux pas.

My costumes arrived in the mail last week. I tried them on and realized it was impossible to wear glasses over the masks. There was no physical possibility of keeping my glasses on my face in these costumes.

After rehearsal last week I mentioned my problem to a few orchestra members. They suggested I try the one thing I've been avoiding for close to 20 years. That thing I'm terrified to try.

When I tell you what it is, you'll probably think I'm being ridiculous. I imagine you've guessed what it is by now.

My 'scary-monster-in-the-closet' is... (this is so embarrassing)...

Contact Lenses!

I'm sure most of you are rolling your eyes at me now. Even my thirteen-year-old granddaughter was laughing at my silly fear. She's a pro at wearing contact lenses.

But it's not a silly fear to me! I’m VERY squeamish about my eyes. I swore I'd never wear contact lenses. I’m happy wearing glasses and have never had any desire to wear contacts.

The decision to stay away from contacts wasn't merely a lack of desire. It was outright repulsion! The idea of putting something in my eye... ARGH! It's like a trip through the Twilight Zone and a Martian Mind Melding all mixed together. I had no intention of EVER putting contact lenses in my eyes. EVER!

But how could I let all those children down? Hundreds of kids are getting into costume... suiting up to fight the bad guys... preparing to strut their stuff on stage in the costume parade.

What are they going to think when they see Batman, Indiana Jones and Mr. Incredible wearing dorky eyeglasses?

(Too bad we're not playing any Harry Potter music this year...)

Well... I gave in. I decided to give contact lenses a try...

I went to the eye doctor and got myself some contact lenses.

To say I was 'scared stiff' is an understatement. I felt like Indiana Jones when he fell into that pit of snakes while running away from bad guys on the circus train. My skin was crawling.


But, I did it! I emerged from my pit of despair, head held high, ready to conquer the world (cue the Superman music).

To make sure I'm ready (and not crying my eyes out) for the concerts this weekend, I've been wearing my contacts for a few hours every day.

I’m conducting all three shows with contact lenses in my eyes! "Holy heroic conductor, Batman!"

I overcame my fear! (...though I don’t think I’m going to start wearing them permanently... but, never say never!)

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... Super-maestro-wearing-contact-lenses!

Come witness me facing me fears this weekend. Enjoy our fun, family-friendly Halloween concert. Bring your kids, and don't hesitate to dress up yourself and join in all the fun!

The concerts are at Timberline Middle School on Friday night at 7pm, Saturday afternoon at 3pm, and Saturday night at 7pm.

Tickets are going fast. Here's where you can get yours:

Up, up and away!

John Pew
Music Director
Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra