The Wisdom of Insecurity

The philosopher Alan Watts wrote a book with this title. In it, he says that we should all always be insecure because, of course, there is never any security in life at any time except in whatever immediate moment you are experiencing, one second at a time. That is obvious but it is also something we resist and refuse to address. It is absolutely true that you can plan to do something in a minute or five minutes or a week, but that life could interfere and make carrying out those plans impossible.

On the other hand, given the nature of our minds, it isn’t really sane not to plan and plan well. It seems reasonable to look into the future and mentally sketch out what you would like to do or where you would like to be. Many courses and books exist on this very topic. Business runs on sales projections and Wall Street futures traders do, too. Nevertheless, being able to make adjustments to whatever plans one makes is a good personal asset.

The delicate balance of staying present in the moment and looking to the horizon with your map of your destination clearly in front of you is a big part of succeeding in life. You cannot stop the flow of life, even if you were to use all your will and effort, time will go on, your body will continue to do what bodies do, and consequences will inevitably show up. If you believe in the hereafter, you could think that life even goes on after life is over…………that time really does not end.

While we can work on vocal technique, we can cultivate our capacities to use the voice with greater skill, great expressiveness, more subtly, more refinement or power, and we can work on making singing significant in our lives in all kinds of ways, we can never be absolutely certain that the singing will always be there, or be there as it is now or was before. There is no ‘always’ in singing, and part of the mystery/fear is that it only exists while we do it. When we are done, it goes into hiding, and if we do not take it out of this hiding place, after a while, we could forget where it went and never really find it again. Worse, it can get lost or taken away and we can search for it but never really find it. We could go on with our lives in every other way, since singing is not a life or death activity, and no one would be the wiser about the loss if we did not discuss it.

Don’t settle into a false sense of security about your singing voice. Remember every day that it will always be an unknown before and after it is happening. We can never know the voice completely and constantly. There is wisdom in being with the insecurity.

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4 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Insecurity”

  1. I suffered long pushing out high C’s with sheer force until I found Country/Gospel/and Bluegrass a more comfortable and natural alter-native to developing a “trained” style of singing.Love what you have (or hate it – your choice). I am, at age 49 so pleased with my mellow lower range and crystal upper ready to audition for Mother Superior in “The Sound of Music” – wouldn’t a true contralto (range) make “Climb Every Mountain” superior?

  2. jeannie, you mentioned the Sundberg’s book on the other post, could you list and tell about good books we should know.
    Or.. Why don’t you write an Somatic Voicework book? It should be great for all of us.

  3. If you do not know voice science, look for the books by Johan Sundberg, Scott McCoy, Richard Miller, William Vennard, and the pedagogy books by Oren Brown and Cornelius Reid, and Meribeth Bunch (Dayme).

    I have written a course book for those who take my training. It is not published, as it is only for people in the training. You can’t learn to sing or teach sing by reading a book, no matter how well it is written or who wrote it.

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