I played the guitar in a performance standing up for the first time. Have I performed for years standing up as a singer? Sure. But, with a guitar, this is a whole new adventure.
I thought that standing would be too hard- how can I see my hand to make the chord changes, how can I hold the guitar and play it….. Too many things to think about. Then, a few months ago, I went to my first open mic. The room was freezing. I started to shiver. My teeth began chattering. But, I wanted to sing, so I did….
Before I knew it, the guitar starts bouncing on my knees- my legs are shaking so much that there is literally a rhythmically-timed airspace between my lap and the guitar. And I wonder, am I cold or am I nervous? And from that place I sang the song. Well, I got through it- I sang, but I didn’t SING. So, I decided, I had to stand. Then, if my legs tremble, whether due to weather or the jitters, my guitar will not bounce on my lap and maybe I will be able to SING.
So, there I stood recently, my first performance of 2012, mouth to the mic, strumming away, song memorized, and I realized wow- I can see people- because when I sit with a music stand in front of me, there is this lovely bubble of insulation that seems to guard from anything outside me, my sheet music, and my guitar. And now, I am looking out and I can see people watching me. And strangely, for me, never once did I wonder- Do they like me? Do they like my song? …and all of the other pervasive thoughts that lead down the path to quaking knees and flitting butterflies….Never once. Instead, I thought, wow- I didn’t look at my hand on the neck- I found that chord by feel- and wow- I am singing my own song. And, wow- I am standing.
About a year ago, I decided to challenge myself to play an original song in public. And I did. It has been quite a journey for me to sing my thoughts aloud, as I rarely share my views with people I don’t know. This is not the case when singing in front of strangers…. But it came down to this- I need to sing. So, I did.
SING. That is what the little voice has always said when I shut off the interfering chatter and the disruptive judgment, guessing about things that I have no control of- like what you think. And I discovered that it doesn’t matter. Because, if I want to sing, I will. And, if you want to listen, you will. And with that, I invite you to read my journeys if you like.
The thing about standing is that once you stand, it is hard to think about going back to sitting. I mean, I can, but by choice and not out of necessity. And, when standing, your whole body is engaged in the music and it feels like dancing. The thing about standing is that- well, I have felt honored to watch a few babies take their first steps. All of a sudden, the crawling no longer gets them to the heights that they’d like to reach. So they hold out their arms for help. They reach to you and you reach down to them. But then, there is a moment when they realize they can stand on their own and they take a step. And soon, they are reaching what they want and on their own. And that is the thing about standing- there’s always more growing to do, and running and jumping and skipping and dancing- but the first step has been taken.
The moment now embedded in memory- when I stood up and sang… And everything in me smiled.
And I breathe that in….
before looking around from this new place and reaching my foot forward to feel out the new ground ahead.