Since June, I have been taking part in daily yoga challenges. The process has been both energizing and exhausting, challenging and life-affirming. Every day, no matter how I am feeling or where I am, I attempt some variation of the daily challenge posture. About 80% of the postures are completely new to me. Through these challenges, I finally moved into advanced inversions and arm balances which I never dreamed I would achieve. However, the fact that most of these postures are new to me means that each successful instagram photo is preceded by about 9 photo “fails.”
I have found that success comes from falling down 9 times and staying up once. But the true key to each success is simply being brave enough to fail. During my past 4 years of yoga study, I had an almost debilitating fear of arm balances. Having my face hover a few inches off the ground while balancing on my hands was not my idea of courage… it seemed more like a request for broken wrists and a broken face. I was never brave enough to even try, so I never made any progress towards success. Through these challenges, and their apparent love of arm balances, I was finally forced to brave my fears and take baby steps towards finding balance and fearlessness. While I have a ways to go before I become comfortable in these positions, each of these variations have contributed to a better understanding of strength, counter-balance, and trust. And, ironically, after attempting countless arm balances, I have yet to fall flat on my face….. Falling on my side is another matter… But maybe falling can be fun. Maybe falling down is just a part of the journey.
This past month, I have been preparing one of the hardest arias I have ever attempted: “Come Scoglio” from Cosi fan tutte. For a big and laborious voice like mine, the giant leaps, soaring coloratura, long sustained fortissimo lines, and drastic color changes, this aria is a beast. I began delving into the piece a year ago, but became too frustrated and overwhelmed to continue and I gave it up. Then, a month ago, I was offered a gig with an orchestra, but only if I would be willing to perform “Come Scoglio.” My heart skipped a beat in panic, but then I thought, “I can do this.” So, I said yes… and then instantly began practicing. It has been a difficult month of failing, and failing, and failing again. But, for every 9 fails, there’s one success. And then these little successes become more frequent and stronger. After moments of mental and physical exhaustion, after laying on the floor in the fetal position after repeatedly practicing one especially difficult coloratura phrase, things have slowly become easier. 2 days ago, I survived my first piano rehearsal with the conductor. So many of the difficult passages just fell into place. In one more week, I will be performing this piece. I will have challenged myself, let myself fall time and time again, but picked myself back up to become ultimately successful. Sometimes all it takes is to be brave enough to try. Never let the fear of failure hold you back. You might actually enjoy the results. And if you fall, fall with style.