Hold it loosely

Things are as they are. Yet sometimes there is a reaching in us, a grasping, to be right. Sometimes we churn ourselves up when another tells us what is right with that we think is wrong. Inside, we object to their opinion. We are angry that they feel they have the right to tell us what is right. And we bear that anger with us as we carry on with my work. We carry our work and our anger in our tightened fists.

But of course they have a right. The have as much right as anyone else who wants to express themselves and appear as if they come from a place of knowledge. Why should their right upset us so? Why should their opinion trouble us?

It is because we are holding on so tightly to what we feel is ours.

But it is not ours.

Then we get angry at our anger. And we beat ourselves up for not being able to be benign.

But everything is as it is, without meaning. Everyone is trying to make their best way in the world. Everyone is trying to make their mark. So let them.

Why should their mark even slightly affect the way that we are going?

People try to quarrel with you. Leave the quarrel with them. Agree with them, or not. But do not take the quarrel with you when it is past. For they do not do the same.

We must learn to hold it loosely, or else we will perish.

Published in: on January 8, 2013 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Looking for the tree

The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms. – Thich Nhat Hahn

There is a thing I like to say, often when I am frustrated by something – money, work, uncertainty… I say that ‘all I want to do is to sit beneath a tree. I would live simply on bread and cheese and wine and contemplate life and this world and the people in it. And I would talk to the people and drink from their wisdom. Living simply, beneath my tree.’

I am sure we all do this, when life gets too hustly-bustly and hectic, when things get complicated, when decisions have to be made or can’t be made quick enough, when we’re waiting for life to begin (spot the musical reference anyone?). We all yearn for a quiet life, a beach, a forest, a countryside, a mountain. Somewhere we can gently press the brakes of time, make stillness real and hear nothing but our breath and a whisper of nature. I long for my tree sometimes. And sometimes I make plans to set out to find it.

And strangely, on a crowded train full of people and January sales shopping bags and screaming babies, I sat beneath my tree. I found my tree within the pages of a book, of course, with Charles Mingus streaming into my headphones. Suddenly the shoppers, plastic bags and tears faded into the non-existent breeze and I sat beneath my tree and chatted for a while with Epictetus.

And there, for twenty minutes, I was happy.

I hope you find your tree.

Published in: on January 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Losing it…Finding it (Keeping my Promise.)

Confession time.

I’ve taken a small hiatus from the library, in order to go sing myself into a frenzy in a series of concerts. Four cities, four days. That’s how we roll.

I am in the company of great singers. GREAT singers. I am supported by wonderful orchestras and a dream Musical Director. THIS is what I want to do. Lift my voice, rejoice.

And I am in trouble.

I am frightened, and that fright means that I go out there and what I rehearse is not what is coming out. And the people around me say that it’s great, and I say that it’s not and they get a bit fed up of me, and I get a lot down on myself and I tell myself that people are right.

A while ago, in another job, somebody told me that I almost didn’t get the job, because the producer thought that, as far as being a singer goes, I had ‘lost it’. This producer was someone I had known, and trusted, who complimented me to my face, and who, as far as I was being told, was tearing me down behind my back. I started the show and lo and behold, prophesy became truth.

I lost it.

My voice left me at the start of my run there and I did the entire thing, raspy, limited, relying on performance and character and every day my soul light diminished a little. By the end of that show, my soul light was out.

I did learn a few other lessons along the way. I learned that I could fail. And that I could stand with that failure. I learned to laugh at myself. Those lessons came all too easily.

But I began to think that perhaps they were right. Perhaps, I did in fact lose it, and this was somewhat confirmed when I landed a role that required no singing of me, required not much of me but attention. I could pay attention. I knew how to do that much. I was put neatly and quietly into a little corner and there I stayed. For a very long time.

And now, I have to sing. And old fears are making themselves heard and become manifest. I felt I had to write it, as I sit here with pain in my throat and no solid reason for the pain but fear alone. I had to be honest about the fact that I feel that I am failing again and proving the naysayers right.

Here’s the thing.

They may be right. Perhaps my voice, with age and use and abuse and all, has in fact given up the ghost. I know for certain that the young have come and my woulda-coulda-shouldas have been sidelined to whimsy and wistful melancholia. It’s the theatrical Circle of Life. I have been savaged by the hyenas of age. I must learn a new trick.

But I have character and experience with me. And because I have learned to laugh with myself and at myself, I invite the laughter from others too. Perhaps I am not even failing, and have set myself too hard a task, to high a summit to scale, without taking into account my own limitations. A fear becomes diminished when it is named. I do know that I have found my fear and through it a courage to play the fool in front of you, forever.

Do not expect too much from my voice. The notes may no longer reside there. But, I intend to use my voice still. Because there is still so much I have to say.

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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Say it with feeling

I am only responsible for what I say, not for what YOU understand – Anonymous

I came across this quote while perusing all the other wonderful writings in the blogosphere and it got me to wondering about the truth of that statement.

There are some teachers who believe that if you do not understand, then it is the fault of the teacher who has not done enough to make the information digestible, interesting or informative. There are some salesmen who believe that if you do not buy, it is because they have not done enough to make the offer attractive, alluring and appealing. There are some coaches that believe that if you do not ‘get it’, it is because they did not do enough to make your dreams and desires speak out to you, they did not highlight your unique selling points in such a way to elicit the right amount of excitement that allows you to get up and build your self-determined future.

I believe that our word sounds have power. And I believe that it is our responsibility to manage how we wield that power. I believe that we already know the effect of our utterances, that we design what we say for the listener, that because we are human ourselves, we know, inherently, how we will be understood when we communicate. It is that ‘theory of mind’ which allows us to follow the trajectory of a pointing finger to the intended target that is being pointed to, and not just stare the finger (go on…try it with a pet!). With that ‘theory of mind’, we know what the other person intends and conversely, we know that our intentions will be known, or at least guessed at, by the listener.

So if I intend to hurt with my words, that intention become known. If I intend to teach, then that feeling is passed on, through my choice of phrase, my tone, my willingness to go at the pace of understanding unique to the receiver. If I intend to heal, then the love is apparent in what I say. I am responsible for what you hear, if only through the intention behind my words.

Do you believe that you can release words into this world and not be responsible for how they are received?

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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Watching the beauty

I have been everywhere since my last blog post.

Work has taken me out of the secure cocoon that is my home and on the road, to laugh, sing, dance and hopefully delight the audience, while continuing to learn tough lessons along the way, all of which I will share with you in due course.

Life and rest have taken me to the back roads of these beautiful isles, with its roadside pheasants and grazing beasts and street walking sheep. The landscape has been magnificent, the weather erratic, and I have learnt to enjoy both the sunshine and the rain. I enjoyed them because they were beyond my control, and the outcome of the rough was just as manageable as the outcome of the smooth. So what if I was soaking wet after that climb up the waterfall? Did I not still enjoy the climb? Once I realised that ‘wet’ wasn’t a permanent state of being, I was able to live satisfactorily in clothes that had to be peeled off like a second skin after a foray into the splendid outdoors.

Nothing is a permanent state of being. Not even being alive. Everything can change, everything is moveable. Your personality isn’t fixed, neither are your thoughts, y our politics. Not even your beliefs. Change them at your whim. Change them, hopefully for your own good and for your own sake. Or don’t. That is your choice.

And that is what is always there…choice. It is your gift. Your right. You can choose to walk out into the storm, or choose to sulk in your hotel room and look at the majesty of the mountains through a rain-streaked pane of glass. You can choose the steeper incline and catch your breath as the magical view takes your breath away, or you can say ‘I’ll wait until I’m just a bit fitter, until I’ve bought the right shoes. I’ll just walk around the gift shop instead…oh look, a tin of shortbread biscuits’. You can choose to laugh at the off-route journey that adds an extra hour to your five hour drive, or cast your eyes down and grumble and miss the camel on the side of the road. You can choose to shriek with joy at every mountain, lake, river, beautiful town, or sleep through the journey.

Your choice…

Published in: on August 21, 2011 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Blogs that inspire

Before I even have my first cup of coffee. Before I do anything. I wanted to share this with you.

Kelly Diels is an extraordinary blogger. She writes some thought provoking stuff. She’s sassy, fun, in-your-face with a fiery creative flair. Her blog is on my Blogroll over there ==>

It’s called Cleavage. That’s a pretty cool name.

Before I do anything I’m sharing this blog post of hers with you. It’s called All Good Worms Go to Heaven and it’s about the power of hindsight, the beauty of resilience and present moment heroism. It’s about…well, go read it. It’s poignant and fabulous.

I am grateful for her share, grateful that I can point you towards it. Go to her blog and swim about, have fun. It’s a fun place to be.

And now I can have my coffee.

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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