Enjoying uncertainty

Life naturally has ups and downs: ebbs and flows. Some days our energy is high and we feel like we can conquer the world, and some days our low energy causes us to fly off the handle when someone cuts in front of us in line, when we step in a puddle, get caught in traffic, or when we sing a wrong note. Life is nothing if not uncertain. No matter how hard we try to control and micromanage every second of every day, the unexpected happens. But, when we acknowledge that life is always going to throw us some curve balls and put kinks in our plans, we can find peace; we can surrender to whatever might come and focus solely on continuing to move forward, no matter what.
This is especially relevant for performing artists. We get so caught up in our daily, and even hourly, progress that we forget to see the forest through the trees. The smallest wrong note or “bad” lesson can ruin the remainder of the day. On the other hand, a good lesson or performance usually makes a bad day better. But, either way, we are emotionally and physically attached to the outcome of our performing lives. We get stuck in a rut, letting our voices rule our self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional outlook: an exhausting teeter-totter effect that often makes performers very emotional and dramatic creatures. But, bliss can be found on bad vocal days as well as good ones if you learn to roll with the uncertainty and see every day as a chance to learn something new (even if it’s how to sing through those darn allergies which are plaguing you.) As Pema Chodron writes in her book Taking the Leap, “We are never encouraged to experience the ebb and flow of our moods, of our health, of the weather, of outer events [of our singing voices!],–pleasant and unpleasant–in their fullness. Instead we stay caught in a fearful, narrow holding pattern if avoiding any pain and continually seeking comfort [and praise]… I encourage you to get comfortable with, begin to relax with, lean in to, whatever the experience may be. We are encouraged to drop the storyline and simply pause, look out, and breathe. Simply be present for a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours, a whole lifetime, with our own shifting energies and with the unpredictability or life as it unfolds, wholly partaking in all experiences just exactly as they are.” What a beautiful idea! It seems simple, but putting it into practice during the ups and downs is trickier than it sounds. So, the next time you have an intense task ahead of you, pause before, pause during, and pause after; take a look around, study yourself, and study your emotions. Rather than getting annoyed, happy, sad, frustrated, or whatever your extreme emotion might be, maybe you will just find the fact that you’re having that extreme emotion fascinating.
So, take a second, breathe, examine and let me know how it goes.

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