It was the official launch party for a KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN to catalyze the production of my debut studio album, DELVE.
I had a massage the morning of, and acupuncture the day before, with needles literally in my ears, while performing. They helped me feel the weight of my body, my breath and my organs. They nourished my kidneys and blood as I drank nettles and comfrey tea right there on stage between songs. I realized that performing original songs from the heart is sort of like mothering, in that to be vulnerable means everything is subject to change in a moment, while being present and engaged, simultaneously.
I have practiced my songs so often that they are a part of me, in my cells. To share them felt triumphant and fun after being terrified to sing only 4 years ago, like the river flowing down with rocks as barriers, which only re-direct the current to continue moving forward....like time. Time moving faster with each year which is why I figure, what the hell? I'm going to be 40 next summer and whatever scares me needs to be faced head on, and overcome. There really isn't anything to fear but fear itself.
Last night brought the memory back of a story about the last time I ever performed on the stage, not in music, but the New York theater.
It was New York City in 1997. I was 22 and just got a bit part in an Off-Broadway show at The Mint Theater. It was Mr. Pim Passes By, written by A. A. Milne. I was waiting in the wings for my line and because I was young and only had 3 lines in the whole play, I was not humbled and seasoned enough to be focused in the way I needed to be. There was someone in the office who wanted my opinion about something he had written. I was easily lured from my post to go help for just a moment. I was distracted and lost track of time and my place in the play.
All of a sudden, I heard silence. My heart immediately began to race, as if being chased by a wild sabertooth tiger. I ran from the office to the wings, knowing I had missed my line. I went where I should have been to hear my cue. I missed it. I dropped it. The actors were fumbling, doing their best to improv their way through, waiting for me. I awkwardly walked to the stage to deliver the line for which they waited and we tried our best to salvage the disastrous moment. It was my last line of the show, and my last night on the stage, until last night.
After that debacle, I ran to the green room and felt sick with fear, shame, and embarrassment. In a 22 year old's life, that was the greatest failure I could have imagined. The director came back stage with a ferocity in his eyes and yelled quietly, "THAT WAS UNFORGIVABLE!" Foam was coming out of his mouth. I left New York soon after that figuring I had zero place in the arts and I was going to just shut off and do something else. That something else was journalism, which, eventually, it turns out, led me back to the arts, but in a different, more integrated, more true context.
My songs are the opposite of stepping into another character outside of who we are, but how to step fully into our truest, most authentic selves within the life we've been given.
Also, I find that writing my own songs and singing them has a quality of merging journalism with the arts in that I can comment on life and the world around me yet perform them with humility, life experience, and my own stamp of poetry and soul, bringing me deeper into the joyous, complex truth of what is unfolding.