Life in the fast lane

As the Eagles song rings through my ears, I sit here on the floor of my friend Heather’s apartment in Burbank trying to plan, organize, and arrange every detail of the rest of my life. However, the simple fact that I am sitting her at my friend’s apartment in Burbank when I should be teaching a yoga class in Atascadero right now goes to show you that life never ends up how you plan it to be. Almost every Monday over the past 4 months, I have been driving round-trip to Los Angeles to work with Juliana Gondek of UCLA: striving to give my unruly voice a firm and established technique and vocal fach. Needless to say, these weekly trips have taken a toll on my energy level, my finances, and my car. But, the amazing ideas, exercises, and vocal training I have received are priceless and, most of the time, I consider them completely worth the hardship and expense. But, sometimes when you are cruising along the freeway (metaphorically or realistically) something has to slow you down and make you reexamine your life choices… even if it is something as unexpected as a freak snowstorm 20 miles outside of LA. And that is precisely what I became caught in yesterday on my way to my lesson. The I-5 was completely socked in with snow on the grapevine, a rather steep and frightening stretch of road on its best days. There we were with no exits for miles, crawling through sludge at a snails pace praying that we would make it over the steep grade alive. In the middle of attempting to keep my wheels in contact with the road, the check-engine light began to flash angrily at me and the car shook like it was having a temper tantrum. There I was, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a foot of snow on either side of the road, trapped in gridlock, moving up a hefty mountain, with a shaky car that barely wanted to continue forward. I don’t believe that anything but the power of positive thinking while chanting loudly to myself “I WILL MAKE IT TO MY LESSON ALIVE” allowed my car to keep moving forward. And it worked. I made it to my lesson alive, a few minutes before it was to begin. At that point, I was shaking as much as my car. While my support group of family and friends back home tried to find a late-night mechanic in LA to check out my car, I tried desperately to pull myself together for my lesson. For the most part, I was successful… If only because I didn’t break down into tears mid-lesson, not knowing where I was going to sleep that night. After completing the lesson, I raced into my car, prayed that the engine would start, and puttered my way to the mechanic just as they were about to close. Then I called up Heather who luckily lived only 4 miles away, walked to the nearest cafe, and began canceling my life for the next day: a tougher and more time-consuming process than one might think. However, even on the darkest days, there is so much to be grateful for. What might have started as a terrible day, ended up as a fun, impromptu slumber party with one of my oldest friends. Sometimes we must be willing to ask for assistance and allow others to help us: like the kind mechanic who truly worried about my safety in this big city, is arranging an employee to pick me up once my repairs are finished, and who would have found me a hotel room if I didn’t get ahold of Heather. Somedays, you are just thankful to be safe, to have arrived at your destination alive, and to have people around you who care. So, here I am, taking a forced vacation from my usual 12+ hr work days. Giving myself some time to think, breath, and consider giving up my need to follow a hour-to-hour, day-to-day, month-to-month hyper-planned schedule for a more “take it as it comes” approach. Life is nothing if not unexpected. And, boy, was this 24 hours of the unexpected.

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