Black Friday: Anyone Know Where I Can Buy Some Courage?
Anyone Know Where I Can Buy Some Courage?
The past few weeks have been somewhat tumultuous. Nothing huge, serious or even all that unpleasant, but crazy and unusual enough that I thought I would allow my writing to temporarily take a back seat.
I thought it would be for a few days, then possibly a week, then…
Time sure does fly sometimes whether you’re having fun or not.
I wrote back in September, about my fear of singing, my lessons and the new choir that I had joined, and how my intent for this year was to be fearless and enjoy the gift of singing without worry about being perfect.
So far, my new commitment to letting go and giving my all is paying off beautifully. I am very pleased with my progress so far and I feel secure in the knowledge that I am growing.
Maybe I got a little too comfortable and the Universe is trying to teach me some sort of ill-humored lesson, but I’ve decided to call what is happening right now an opportunity.
In case you’re wondering, this is how that sounds in my head.
”This is an opportunity. This is an opportunity. This is an opportunity. This is an opportunity. This is an opportunity.”
The choir that I joined is a large community choir that was started 10 years ago by some fabulously dedicated people who were really determined to create a wonderful place where anyone could go and feel safe and comfortable singing. No experience or skill necessary. Just make a joyful noise.
It was the perfect place for someone like me since joining any kind of group is sure to mean a trip or two down Anxiety Lane.
Despite a few years of training and the fact that I read music quite well, I didn’t yet have the confidence for a group of more serious singers.
It is a bit complicated and boring, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I ended up singing in the Soprano section where my girlfriend, the one person I knew in the choir, is the section leader.
The music is not all that difficult and in the beginning was not a problem for me even though I am a Mezzo Soprano. I can hit the high notes, but it’s best for all if I don’t stay there too long.
Then, our incredibly ambitious choir director gave us a piece that forced me to stretch.
At first I was quite proud of what I was able to do.
However, about a week ago, I realized that I was straining my voice, which can really do damage so, I decided to shift down to second Soprano, which eliminated the need to sing the notes that were causing me stress. It also meant that 3 weeks before our concert I have to learn new parts to several of the pieces so I got to work, confident that I could learn these relatively simple parts without difficulty and I was almost right.
I worked so hard that I have practically memorized every piece only there is one problem.
It turns out that the section that I am singing in now does not have a lot of really strong, confident singers. In fact, after two rehearsals I’m still not sure if there is one. And other singers are asking me to sing out so that I can lead them.
And I have discovered that I cannot find the harmony notes without someone to follow, even after hours of practice.
I’ve never sung in a group without someone to follow before, though I didn’t know that I was following at all. Nor did I know that I am not able to find the notes myself without that guide.
So, here I am, two and a half weeks before my first ever choir concert unable to sing along, and at the same time, fighting that old foe of mine. Fear.
So far, I’m winning the battle with logic. There are two things that I need to solve this problem; practice, and courage.
Obviously, the practice part is completely within my control.
Fortunately, the piece that is giving me the most trouble, is available on YouTube both as a choir and with the individual parts. I’ve been working all week at learning to sing my part, in harmony with the first soprano. I’m slowly getting parts of it at home, but everything changes when I am in a room with 60 other voices.
So, this weekend, I will try to find out when my neighbors will be out so that I can plug my laptop into my stereo system crank it up, and sing full voice until I finally figure out how to hit the right notes.
After that, I must be brave enough to do it where others can hear me, letting go of the fear that I’ll fail and screw up my entire section.
I’ll do it.
I truly believe that these things happen for a reason and it is so that we can grow, not so that the Universe can laugh at us when we fall on our faces. Besides which, I have accomplished too much in these past few months to have my ass kicked by a choir that is supposed to be fun.
And this is where I would like to buy some courage.
Unfortunately, what I have learned so far is that courage cannot be bought, borrowed or given. I’m not sure that it can be created so much as it has to be found.
And so, as I write this, I realize that the most likely place to find it is to look, as always within, and trust in my own drive and determination to succeed. I remind myself that courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision to push forward, and I notice, that despite my discomfort over this situation, there is no inner-critic here telling me to give it up, because I’ll never learn…
It is the same with this as it is with anything that can be learned, every battle that must be won, every goal that must be reached.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.
~Mary Anne Radmacher