In honor of audition week . . .
I was standing at the counter
I was waiting for the change
When I heard that old familiar music start
It was like a lighted match
Had been tossed into my soul
It was like a dam had broken in my heart
After taking every detour
Getting lost and losing track
So that even if I wanted
I could not find my way back
After driving out the memory
Of the way things might have been
After I’d forgotten all about us
The song remembers when.
Those lyrics are from a Trisha Yearwood song entitled, not surprisingly, “The Song Remembers When”. And it has everything to do with why music is such a personal, powerful experience for me.
From the time I was young, I remember watching the adults in my life have visceral reactions to songs. I remember seeing tears in my mother’s eyes when the song “Because He Lives” was playing on the record spinning at the time. (At the time, I didn’t understand. Now that song evokes the same response in me.) I sat in the sanctuary of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Farmington, New Mexico, on Easter morning and watched as tears started falling down the faces of nearly every member of the choir. I was probably 6 years old or so at the time. Years later, my parents would explain that it had been a rough path getting to the performance and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, was going wrong. All the frustration led to shortened tempers and some tense conversations. At the perfect moment in the cantata they were performing, the sun hit the rose window in the balcony and bathed the choir in colored light. The purpose of the day, the reason we were celebrating became the only thing that mattered and the responses of the choir members could be seen on their wet cheeks.
In my own life, there have been songs that have caused my eyes to fill with tears almost from the first note. There are songs that leave me invigorated and feeling like I could conquer the world. There are songs that hit me between the eyes with a truth I hadn’t considered before. And more times than I can count, I’ve heard lyrics that made me think, “Yes! That’s it! I haven’t known how to say it but those are exactly the words I’ve been looking for!”
Sometimes the songs I’m talking about are connected to matters of faith. Sometimes they are not. But one thing holds true – songs stick in my brain because I have an emotional connection to them. Or maybe I have a connection to the first time I really heard the song. Whatever the original circumstance, those songs are always there. I can go without hearing a certain meaningful song for years and when I hear it again, I’ll be able to sing every word without a mistake. More importantly, I’m instantly transported back to that moment in time when the song first imprinted itself on my heart.
Trisha was right. The song DOES remember when.
**This is all about a conversation that I’ve not yet actually been brave enough to have with anyone face to face.
“You really should learn to say no occasionally.”
I hear this ALL the time.
That comment usually comes after a discussion of my current theatrical involvement and the person making the statement almost always means that I should say no to the theater “stuff” I do.
But what if I took them at their word? What if I learned to say no to those things that really don’t hit my God-given designs and passions?
Would the person offering advice be okay with it if I said no to playing for the kid’s Christmas program at church? Or what if I declined to plan/run an elementary school program for the holiday’s?
In the church, there is a tendency to have expectations of others based on what we think they should be doing with their skills and their time. If they don’t live up to our expectations we shake our heads and talk about “wasting God-given talent.” As a Pastor’s wife, I have had people refuse to speak to me if they feel I am not doing what I should be. Apparently, the fact that my husband is on the payroll leads them to believe that they should have some say over how I spend my discretionary time.
Time to speak out clearly – if I HAVE to learn to say no to things, I will NOT be choosing to say no to theatrical involvements. It is when I am in the throes of a theater production – rehearsing, directing, whatever – that I am the most truly myself. I get that over-committing can be dangerous to one’s sanity and even one’s physical health.
But never saying yes to the things one is truly passionate about is just as dangerous. Maybe more so.
So if you tell me that I should learn to say no, I will thank you for your concern and take a look at my schedule to reevaluate the allocation of my time. Just be ready for me to say “yes” to those things that are right for me, even if you don’t understand!
Had to take a night off this week. Just too worn out to continue – dizzy, slightly yucky stomach, low-grade fever . . . the works. Nice long nap, crash in the recliner reading a book and I felt slightly more capable of functioning.
Why so worn out?
Simple. I tend to book myself REALLY busy. And I’m also fighting off a cold or something respiratory. I’m an empty nester who loves working with kiddos in the performing arts. Which means that my schedule doesn’t follow “normal” working hours. I tend to have a chunk of time off in the afternoon and work lots of later afternoons/evenings.
Currently, I find myself with the following performance events in my near future –
– State colorguard competition this Friday in Des Moines (it’s my first year as head coach and I keep triple checking my to do list to make sure everything is ready)
– Community theater production onstage next week – a kiddos Christmas musical!
– Choir concert to accompany (LOVE this part of the year!!)
– Violin recital to accompany
– Christmas Eve service to play for.
And this doesn’t include Christmas shopping or other tasks not related to work.
And I love absolutely all of the chaos. Yes, I sometimes run myself a little too hard and need to stop for a moment (this week being an example!) but I prefer to think about what I’ve watched happen.
A group of 19 individuals came together as a team, learned two new shows – one for marching season and one for indoor season. They’ve grown so much since the season started and I love every minute I get to spend with them. 6 of those individuals also choreographed solo pieces and competed at state solo contest.
I’ve watched kiddos step into their first theatrical production ever and work alongside more experienced young performers. That’s probably my favorite thing about theater – age sometimes doesn’t matter a lick!
I’ve once again had the privilege of accompanying four talented ensembles at the local senior high as they prepare for the Yuletide concert (my favorite concert of the year). Yeah, high schoolers can get squirrely from time to time but the artistry they create . . . it’s such a joy to be a part of it.
Accompanying violinists is new. But I’m loving it. Always had a soft spot for string instruments. Even played the violin for a short stretch in my childhood. But the best part is some of the soloists I’m playing for are young. I mean, elementary school age young. And it’s going to be such an honor to share that performance moment with them.
Large group speech rehearsals have started and I’m thrilled to once again be working with the musical theater groups as they prepare.
So yeah. I’m happy to be tired. It’s the result of hours spent working with young people in the performing arts and I can’t imagine spending my time doing anything else.
Maybe it’s the Sophomore dance captain who showed fantastic leadership skills as she helped a cast member get caught up after missing a dance rehearsal. With patience and encouragement, she taught and clarified dance steps and helped to polish a fellow performers work.
Maybe it’s the principal characters who are devoted to crafting characters that are multi-dimensional, true to the story, and engaging. Their creative ideas enrich the performance, their hard work makes the accents sound just a bit more polished each time they speak, and they bring chills or make me laugh often.
Maybe it’s the AMAZING sound of the cast as they work through a vocal rehearsal.
Maybe it’s a dance line that works like they’ve been performing together for years, making sure things like hand placement and toe point match!
I could go on for pages. And I would still be barely scratching the surface. They wear me out, make me laugh, take my breath away, give me all sorts of reasons to keep layering in new ideas, and keep me feeling young.
As I type this, I’m COMPLETELY exhausted. It was a very busy week which ended today with a seven-hour day working on the “big numbers” – trying to make up the time lost to snow day cancellations – and my back and legs are so sore that I can hardly move. But I cannot imagine a better way to end my week.
They wear me out, their energy can be a bit much to handle, and the schedule I run each Spring is nothing short of crazy. But I love every minute spent learning from, growing with, and directing “my” theater kids!
It shouldn’t baffle me. It shouldn’t still be one of those moments that makes me step back and say, “Huh. Still true.”
But it is.
At least, it has been again just recently.
If you find yourself needing to complete a task and that task is connected to a job or some other type of obligation for which you feel NO passion, it is serious toil to get it done. Ten minutes feels like 2 hours and no matter how much progress you make, all you can think about is what still needs to be done.
But if you find yourself needing to complete a task that hits at the heart of your passion, the time flies by. You don’t begrudge a single minute spent on the task because, even as you are striving to meet a deadline, your heart is being filled. Your spirit is being fed.
There is a difference between toil and work. One feels tedious and completely lacking in joy. The other leaves you feeling accomplished and maybe even a little proud of yourself.
There is a difference between tired and worn out. A day filled with doing what you love will leave you tired and smiling. You might even spend a moment just reliving the moments before you fall asleep. But worn out? That’s bone weariness. That’s the “thank God this day is over” reaction.
Confucius most often gets the credit for saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (It’s also been attributed to Mark Twain at least a couple times in various things I’ve read!) So now the trick is figuring how to fill my work life with things I love and rid myself of the tedium.
Hmmmm . . .
Spent some time doing some reflecting and self-evaluating lately. That time was focused on my “word for the year” which is the word “alignment”. It has been my goal this year to focus in, with laser-like intensity, on what it is I am most passionate about. Once I was clear on my focus, it became obvious where I should – and should not – be spending my time. And it has becoming INCREASINGLY clear that some people do not get to have access to that time or that passion. This doesn’t mean I won’t interact with them in my particular area(s) of passion. I’m just going to keep a healthy distance between us so that my purpose stays clear and clearly mine. Some people, sadly, cannot find it in themselves to support others or let them shine if it means that they must step to the side for a moment. Others will scream their goodwill in your direction and do everything they can to help you achieve your dreams, even if it means they are unseen when you reach the mountaintop.
That second group? That is your tribe. Those people who aren’t threatened by your achievements or success because they know you will be there for them when it’s their turn.
So to those that are my tribe – I hope you know who you are! And thank you for the support, the positive words, and the encouragement.