|The Cover of Seahawks' Self-Titled Album|
I've been feeling a lot of fear around my performing recently. I feel like performers aren't supposed to talk about such things. I do have a confidence and a strength in what I do, that comes from years of performing with my two bands.
But since I landed in San Diego, things have felt very different. I don't have a regular back-up band yet, so on most occasions I perform alone. I've been doing open mics, so there are always many, many other performers there. I finish, and the next person is already playing in another couple of minutes. I am living my life in much healthier ways these days. Which means on stage, I am by myself, and I don't have some of the psychological crutches I kept in my life to help temper my thoughts and emotions.
Performing my own songs in front of strangers is still a scary thing for me. The thoughts that create the fear seem to race through my mind at incredible speed. Perhaps some of them are even subconscious, not detectable to my conscious mind. As near as I can discern, most of them go something like this: "What if you fail?" "You will fail!" "You will embarrass and humiliate yourself." "You are not talented enough." "You're not talented at all." "You have no right to be up here on stage." "You will never succeed at this." "People in your life will remember you as a failure." "You're a terrible guitar player." [I hear that one A LOT in my mind.] "You had your chance before, with your bands - none of that worked out, so your chance is gone." "You're too old." "You're not good-looking enough." "Your style of songwriting is too all-over-the-place." "Your sound isn't radio-friendly enough." And on and on and on like that. I think you get the idea!
I now believe that voice in my head, that says these things to terrify me, does not tell the truth, ever. It feels that what I am doing is dangerous, that it opens me up to ridicule, judgement, criticism, condemnation from others. So I guess its solution is to try to condemn me and get me to quit. In that way, I might be protected from criticism from others. If I never write, rehearse, record, or play a song for someone else, no one can really say it sucks, can they?
But I am really quite weary of this internal abuse I perform against myself. I now believe that although I have no idea where it will lead, EVER, I am called to create and share music with people, and that is enough. I believe that The Universe is an abundant one which delights in the creations of all of us, its little citizens. I believe it has supported me, is supporting me, and will continue to support me as long as I feel truly called to do this.
I told a fellow musician and dear friend on the phone recently, that without my bands on stage with me, and without my former distractions to distract me, I feel like I have jumped off a cliff without a net. But really, I now believe that because I have done this and continue to do this, The Universe won't give me a net. It has given me a jet-pack. Flying with a jet-pack is still scary at first. But I really don't need to worry about falling to my annihilation any more.
Sunday night I went to see my friend Larry Bates, who is playing Dr. Martin Luther King in a stunning, two-person play called The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, here at San Diego Repertory Theatre. The play is amazing, and for me it was a lot about our connection to the overall power or powers of the Universe, and the amazing things one man did with his brief, human life.
At the open mic at Rebecca's this past Tuesday night, my new friend Rory Bloch played an instrumental song he wrote called "Mountaintops." I loved the song and something about the title stuck with me.
Yesterday I was listening to an album of amazing instrumental music I bought a while back on iTunes for my iPhone. It's by a band called Seahawks, and it's their self-titled record. This album is one of the few I own which helps me feel connected to a powerful, loving, supportive Universe every moment I listen. I suddenly realized that one of my favorite songs on it is the first track, and it's called "Love on a Mountaintop." I'd looked at the album cover on my iPhone many, many times. But yesterday I really looked at it for the first time. It's the picture at the top-left of this post.