30 day challenge

Wow, that last post was kind of a whine-fest, eh? Waa waa, you have free time, poor baby. No wonder there were so few comments, you were probably all pulling out your tiny violins and playing them for poor old me. But you know what I decided? When I have time between gigs, what I need to do is challenge myself in some way to keep my brain active. The reason I personally am in a better mood when I'm working is that I thrive on challenges, and rehearsing and performing opera is always that. Writing is also a challenge, but it's not such a big challenge when I'm feeling inspired - it just flows. But recently my dad asked me if I ever thought about blogging every day, and I replied, "Noooooooo, Dad! I can only write when I am in-spaaaaaaahed." But what if I forced myself to get inspaaaaahed every morning? In the book The Artists Way, which is about tapping into your own creativity to the fullest, the author suggests that you write something called "morning pages" every morning to get your creativity flowing first thing. I tried that and I think I was able to do it for about a month and then I stopped feeling it. But that was before I had started blogging, and my writing has changed a lot since then. So my challenge to myself this month is to blog every single day (gasp) for 30 days and see what it does for me. Which means, people, that sometimes I end up blogging about some really boring crap. Or maybe I will become funny again, because lately I feel like I've been sort of not so hilarious in the ol' blog entries. But I'm gonna try the experiment to see if it kicks me in the butt a little bit.

The subject kicking around in my head today is justice and fairness. "Whoever told you that life was fair?" my mom is fond of saying to me (she's good at keeping me grounded). And yet I still get absolutely incensed when I see an injustice occurring, especially when it happens to someone I care about. This week I witnessed what I think anybody would agree was a great injustice happening to a friend of mine - someone incredibly talented, hard working, and kind - who had an opportunity that should have belonged to them yanked out from under them. My first reaction was to fly into a rage ( I was in the process of doing my laundry when I found out and those dryer doors got some abuse) and then I started to feel sort of despondent, asking myself why we even BOTHER when talent isn't rewarded?

I called my parents (as I often do in times of stress and confusion) and they made a good analogy. This business (or any artistic endeavor in which you are trying to make a living and not just doing it for fun) is basically a lottery. If you are talented enough, you are allowed to buy a ticket, but once you buy a ticket, it's basically up to fate whether you win the lottery or not. You might win $5 or you might win ten million, but it's all a matter of chance. Will you meet the right person, who will introduce you to another right person, who will decide you deserve being pushed to the top? Will you get sick the night of your big debut at a huge house and blow it? Will you sing your audition before lunch when the intendant is hungry and in a bad mood or after lunch when he's full and feeling better? If you want to be in this business, you have to be willing to buy that lottery ticket and leave your fate up to something way beyond your control. BUT you have to keep working at your craft to even be allowed to buy a new ticket every day. And of course, many people believe that our attitude and energy have a huge affect on what our fate turns out to be, so those things are important too.

I guess the lesson is always the same - as trite and cliched as it sounds - that you have to decide when you succeed and fail, and not leave it up to the outside world to determine that. Does success for an opera singer mean singing at La Scala or does it mean challenging yourself to improve in some small way every day? Does success mean making a recording or being able to sing a high C for yourself in your living room, as perfectly as you can? Does success mean having an article about you written in a magazine or teaching third graders who hated opera something that makes them interested in it? I'm saying all this for myself, by the way, not in order to sound all grandiose and patronizing. In the same way that success in an artistic field can be all about perception (did a 5 year old splatter paint on that canvas or did Jackson Pollock create it? knowing the answer will almost certainly affect how you feel about it the painting), success for oneself is about your own self perception. It's something to remind ourselves of every day. I certainly need to.

Whew! So much heavy stuff!! I REALLY need to find the funny again. Well, I have 30 consecutive blogging days to try.....