On a daily basis I find myself judging my progress–be it in a yoga pose, in business successes, or, worst yet, in my vocal technique. I want to exceed my own expectations and those of my instructors with little guidance or input: I want perfection at all times. Nowhere is this more apparent than when I attend young artist programs. The constant need to prove yourself hour by hour is daunting. As soon as I am given a correction or critique, I want to fix it. More importantly, I want to already have it fixed.
Yesterday, in a voice lesson, my instructor gave me a major correction and my whole body collapsed into an audible sigh of dejection and frustration. When he asked what was wrong, I answered that I wanted the issue fixed already. In response, he said something that will hopefully stick with me for a lifetime “you can’t fix something yesterday that you’re only corrected on today.” It sounds like common sense, and yet, so often when I receive adjustments and help from my teachers, I want to have my issues fixed preemptively. I somehow believe that I can gain a superpower which will allow me to read their minds and make adjustments before the teachers, auditors, or general audience members offer their criticisms. In this alternate reality, I can be exactly what everyone wants me to be at all times… I like that alternate reality… But, unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. Just as I cannot know the answers to an exam before I even open the textbook and take the class, I cannot achieve the perfectly placed and refined voice before ever being guided to it. Sure, if I didn’t have these specific issues, then the instructors would not remark on them; but, they will always find SOMETHING to work on. Speaking as a voice teacher myself, that’s their job. I’m not paying them to just sit back and listen to me sing perfectly. I am paying them for their guidance and ability to help me refine my voice further and make it more than it is right now. Success lies not in the level where you are, but in how quickly you can adapt and progress past that point. Yes, I may be a late-bloomer vocally; but, in the right environment and with the right assistance, my technique grows like a weed. “Natural” talent is one thing. But if you never progress past that starting point, how will you ever truly succeed? So, be ok with where you are today and keep moving forward.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
#yogagivesback challenge day 25: headstand variation. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when any inversion was outside my realm of possibility. Too fearful to kick up against a wall even in the safety of a studio, I would have never dreamed of a free headstand outdoors on the hard concrete. After only a few years of strength training and fear-breaking, free inversions are now a daily part of my practice. Something that I now consider basic, such as this headstand, was once a major struggle to create. When I get envious of another’s killer scorpion or free handstand, I remember back to my humble beginnings in headstand and keep moving forward at my slow and steady pace. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.