Competition 

Look in the mirror…that’s your competition. 

As I struggle to prepare a long list of opera scenes, a role, a one-woman musical monologue, 6 arias, 6 cabaret pieces, and sightreading of contemporary composers’ works for an upcoming month-long music festival, I’m reminded that I’m both my own best friend and my own worst enemy. I look in the mirror and see panic staring back at me. After 2.5 months of injury and illness, I’m feeling underprepared and underqualified. It’s been such a challenge just to sing one note lately that the long list of works to prepare is daunting…to say the least. Guilt, Fear, and their good friend Stress pop their heads into my practice room and set up camp around my piano–waving their hands wildly in front of my face until the scores I am looking over transform into a collection of blurred lines and black smudges. After a few moments of this, I stop, take a breath, and look again. 

After glancing back at the mirror I see a glimmer of hope. The face of determination furrows her brow and begins to talk some sense into my rattled brain. Before every performance, every music festival, every major lesson or coaching, every jury, and every audition I have performed, I have struggled with these same feelings. Yes, I’ve been thrown quite a curve ball this year with emotional and physical trauma, but the reactions are the same. Yesterday I was complaining to a friend about the vocal difficulties I have been facing and she asked me one mind-blowing question: “so, are you going to back out of the festival?”

Mouth agape, I stared at her with shock and horror. Back out of the festival? I’ve been preparing for this all year. I’ve been planning music, researching characters, learning scenes and arias, and working every spare moment to fulfill my performance goals. Quit? Never. Yes, it would have been nice to feel solid in my voice going into these long days of singing and rehearsals; but, even if I had been able to practice these past few months, I still probably wouldn’t feel fully prepared. You see, the only one I am in competition with is myself. And, unfortunately, that person in the mirror…. she keeps getting better. So, I guess I’ll just have to get back to work and strive to beat out the competition: one note at a time. 

  #yogagivesbackchallenge day 13: wheel pose. 
“Tonight, this strange interior gesture of friendship—the lending of a hand from me to myself when nobody else is around to offer solace—reminds me of something that happened to me once in New York City. I walked into an office building one afternoon in a hurry, dashed into the waiting elevator. As I rushed in, I caught an unexpected glance of myself in a security mirror’s reflection. In that moment, my brain did an odd thing—it fired off this split-second message: “Hey! You know her! That’s a friend of yours!” And I actually ran forward toward my own reflection with a smile, ready to welcome that girl whose name I had lost but whose face was so familiar. In a flash instant of course, I realized my mistake and laughed in embarrassment at my almost doglike confusion over how a mirror works. But for some reason that incident comes to mind again tonight when I need comforting and I find myself writing this comforting reminder at the bottom of the page.

Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a FRIEND…” -Elizabeth Gilbert 

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5 thoughts on “Competition 

  1. Yay !! …..

    Free

    And you must have courage, you must be curious,
    You must try absorbing all the things that you can see…
    You can search for a lifetime for the maning of one word,
    If you were to pick one word, that word should be “free”.
    There is talk of compassion,
    But it hides from the hardened,
    And it runs like a quarry
    From a senseless kill…
    And you must find meaning in things you’ve been ignoring
    And you will learn lessons that help a soul to be free.

  2. Some friends, they hide it
    Keep it deep inside
    For you it is a struggle
    But don’t you know it’s a lie
    You got to be the real thing
    It flows with the tide
    You are the person
    With the answer inside
    I’m gonna make it, I’m gonna try
    Ain’t no use to hang your head and cry

    Turn it loose; don’t hold back
    Got to set your spirit free
    Turn it loose; listen to me, children
    It’s the best kind of remedy
    Turn it loose; you got the power
    That’s the way it’s got to be
    Turn it loose; get on board
    It’s just for people like you and me

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