A time to be human
For whatever reason it has been hard for me to find the time (or rather to make the time) to start this blog but I’m pushing on through now and making it happen! It’s late in my house and everyone is asleep so this is the moment. The quiet after the storm.
There’s no question that the pandemic has thrust us into the present, but it has more importantly thrust us into ourselves. The lack of stuff– of distractions, structure, normalcy, and affirmations we previously might have taken for granted– suddenly forcing us to look within. When singing took up so much of my life, it was easy to ‘never find the time’ to write or never find the time to re-examine x, y or z. There was always another piece to learn, another flight coming up, another meal to prepare or, most of all, quality time to be had with my kids. That was the strongest pull of all. But now that I have quality time everyday with my children and there are no singing jobs on the near horizon, I am left with myself, the non-singer, and I have to monitor, no, face my thoughts and habits that don’t deal with music.
I have been thinking a lot about this notion of ‘cleaning house.’ We are all at home more than normal, even those of us now working from home, so it’s a natural inclination to organize piles or declutter or re-examine. In that department there have been many great positives for me, re-examining my relationship to music, why and when I sing, and re-examining when or if I ever pause, truly pause. I’m not referring to a social media moment or book pause but one of breath where I take in life and take in the blessings around me. A bedtime with one of my daughters can be absolutely profound in its sweetness and clarity, and it connects me to the part of myself that is human. Not a singer. I haven’t activated that part of myself very much in the last decade. Time at home and time on the road have both been so much defined by work and performing. When I get off the plane and walk into my house, it’s about soaking it in and being what everyone needs me to be until the next moment I have to leave. Very little in that scenario is about being with myself and taking stock of what is. So the ‘cleaning house’ idea extends to myself and looking at myself, not just the piles of papers and music. Who am I if not a singer (or not a performing one for the moment) and what then defines my life?
I read recently a passage about how most women define their lives by the roles they play for others– wife, mother, friend, daughter but not ‘who’ they are apart from that. And I think for singers, and especially for those without work right now, it’s the same question. The idea that who I am is not defined by what I do or what I’m singing. In the end I believe this question will only serve to enhance our art and, I hope, strengthen our mission statement. But perhaps this period is more specifically a reminder to keep our human self at the forefront and let the artist be an extension of that, not the other way around. There are many ways to put it but, simply said, I am happy to be with my human self right now, even if discomforts may arise. It’s nice to be re-acquainted with that person and reminded of her purpose.
What’s the saying- when the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.