We all get lost. It’s part of the process. If we did not risk getting lost, we would live without adventure, without risk, without challenge. People in the arts truly cannot afford to live that way. Maybe if you work on a line in a factory, doing the same thing over and over, you take different kinds of risks (at the race track, at the card table, on a ski slope) than artists do, but if you are a performer, you have to always be risking going over the edge to find the new you. Sometimes that new you can be in hiding. That’s not fun.
It is really frightening and frustrating when you are trying your best to “let go” and whatever it is you are trying to let go of refuses to follow your intention. It keeps hanging on and on, like gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe, and even if you understand that this is part of the process, it doesn’t make it easier or more pleasant. It would seem to be easier to give up, much easier. In the case of singers, it looks like it would be easier to just stop singing or performing in public. Hide at home, no one will care if you are not “famous”. But, you cannot hide from yourself. The only place the journey happens is inside your own consciousness. You either grapple with your own foibles or you hide from them, but hiding absolutely does not make them disappear. On the contrary, sometimes they grow like mushrooms incubating in the dark, only to poke out of the dirt and remind you they are still there.
If you come to a peaceful place about changing something and it really is a calm, solid and definite choice that makes you happy, then you know. But if you stop something because it was hard or unsuccessful, you always have that experience in the back of your mind……maybe, if I had tried that one last time……..maybe, then, I would have had a breakthrough.
Adults have more to lose here than students. The kids don’t really have the life experience to understand all that is involved. Mostly, they are open to new experiences unless they have been traumatized in some way. Adults, though, have lived through enough things in life to know what it means to succeed and to fail, to arrive or to miss the plane. Adults have to gather their courage in order to jump in one more time, trusting the unknown. How many people really do that? What kind of fabric are they made out of when they do?
Singing seems like just this nice, easy, pleasant way to have fun, and it is that. But singing in the deepest and also highest sense, when taken as an artform, is very hard. It is subtle, powerful, vast and finite all at the same time. And, even if the teacher is a good, experienced one, the journey of making the sounds is always one that we make alone. No one can get inside your throat and produce the sounds or tell you how to find them, even when you seriously need to be guided. Finding one’s true ownership of his or her own voice is a lonely dark night of the soul experience because you have to decide something that no one else can decide for you or guide you to know. Who am I? Is the sound I am making the one that belongs to my heart and soul? Is this the real me? And, if it is not, where is the real me in my sound?
The people who do not deal with things this way, deal with them through music. Is this song for me? Should I sing it this way or that way? How should I express the words or the music? What’s the best key or arrangement? Should I sing it with a piano or a guitar? How will I know if this is the essence of the song coming through me or just a facade?
I have only the highest regard for artists who really delve deeply into the meaning of life as it is expressed through their art. I think singing is, for me, the one “true” place, (although I know for others, it varies), and it is the thing that drives me, keeps me alive, buoys me when I am down, knocks me out when it is difficult, and saddens me when I am away from it. I know there are many people, just like me, who feel the same way. Are you one, too?