While I dedicate my mornings to writing, it's the walks I take just before sitting at my desk where the real work gets done. The typing is merely a transcription and editing of what's already been largely crafted in my mind. This process is interrupted when the acknowledgement and chirping are not of friendly neighbors and birds, but of a very different sort of animal.
Our minds, by design, present reasons and excuses why things are ok the way they are. Cognitive dissonance requires us to make a choice: to see the world as generally fine so that we can be fine within it, or to acknowledge that it is not and necessarily be propelled into action. We so often choose the former so as not to have to deal with the latter.
My background is as a professional singer, which has afforded me the privilege of participating both musically and personally in many extraordinary moments. Yet some of the most powerful experiences of my career and life have been off stage- in coaching young artists, volunteering my time, getting to know my readers and listeners, and mentoring.
In my graduate training, I had the opportunity to work in a day program providing individual and group counseling for those with mental illness. What I learned from those incredible men and women would fill an entire book. What I learned in an afternoon from a man named Brian I'd like to share with you here.
We are all so lucky. We have not only the freedom to choose the paths we'll take, but the attitudes we'll carry with us along the way. This realization makes a gift of each moment, freeing up the energy, passion, and creativity to move forward with lightness and fun up the precious hill called life.
I've said a lot in my writing about the power of silence and the importance of non-verbal communication. And I stand by their merits; a vacation from language provides for an awareness that speaks volumes about who we are and how we engage with the world and those around us.But what about when that vacation is permanent?
Here we are at the turn of another year, a time dedicated to introspection that for many of us is philosophical and existential in nature. I too dwell on these ideas, though my focus of late has been elsewhere. For regardless of what we think, how we feel and what we make it all mean, our lives are the result not of our thoughts, but of the actions we take.
This weekend, I'm heading to Kripalu to give my final workshop of the year. I've facilitated a number of classes this fall, each an incredible opportunity that leaves me wondering, 'do I really get paid for this?' Certainly I love what I do. But the marveling at compensation comes less from the joy of sharing my work and more from what I receive by doing so: objectivity.
Something happens to creative people when they're asked to address the business aspects of their art. The passion and talent that come through on every channel all but dissipate when they consider where and how they 'fit' into their fields. The proud, declarative 'this is me!' all too often shifts into a frustrated and confused 'who am I? who should I be?'
Performance anxiety is an elephant-in-the-room sized issue for everyone who spends time on any kind of a stage. But it doesn't have to be. A shift in perspective can turn terror into a truly rewarding experience.