When I attended the lectures of Eckhardt Tolle last year one of the questions he was asked was “how can we make the world a better place”? The answer Tolle gave was for each of us to be as present as possible, one moment at a time. Simple, but profound, advice.
If you think about it, singing is a great way to learn about this concept. You can only sing one moment at a time. Each note, each word, each breath going out of your throat as sound, is alive moment by moment. If you are allowing the process to unfold as you are in the midst of it, you have to be in each moment as it is happening. Nothing else is possible.
The odd thing about this is that as soon as you stop the process to observe something about it, you are no longer “in the moment”. And, of course, we do this all day long. Very few people are capable of “staying in the moment” for anything longer than a few minutes, if that. The artistic process, when taught properly, should help you acquire the mental discipline to concentrate only on the task at hand while you are in the middle of it. If you are blessed enough to be in love with what you do (in this case, singing), then you don’t need much prompting to allow your fascination to be the engine towards your destination of continuous presence. Being present on the stage (“stage presence”) is always the goal and it isn’t so hard to do after you discover what that means.
The duality of life – what we live with each day without seeing it — rules our perceptions. The right/wrong, good/bad, me/them attitude that we are taught from infancy is still the dominant idea of our world and that prevents us from getting out of the messes we make. As long as we are incapable of seeing things as lessons and challenges, and of seeing each other as being OK even when we don’t like each other very much, we will continue to cause misery to be the predominant theme of many sad lives. If we don’t learn to be unselfish, regardless, life will continue to be hard.
The only way to get even remotely close to that goal is to be fully present wherever you are and not judge your experience no matter what it may be. If that were easy, we would be living on a totally different planet. What can help get us there, however, are the arts (all of them). Whether we are performing or watching a brilliant performance, for as long as it lasts, we are in the moment, and nothing is in the way. Live performance (and sometimes film and TV performance) that completely captures our attention keeps us in the moment and, in that, there is no room for outside sorrow, anger or fear.
A society that values the arts over fame, money and power can only be a society that values life, beauty and humanity. If you can add to that with your own gifts, be bold, step forward, and do just that. We need you. Each person, right now. If you can do that through your art. If you are not an artist, do it by being yourself, in love with life. That’s enough.