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YOUR choice. What will you choose?
An interesting moment of clarity for me these last few weeks:
That I have always struggled with doing things for the pure joy of it.
That is strange on so many levels as I’ve always been so passionately in the guts of life. I have always fought to live well, been motivated, worked hard, been dedicated a committed as a student, a teacher, a friend, a daughter, a partner, a woman.
But when I ask myself, “What shall I do because I am motivated just by the very essence of who I am, and for my own gain and worth?”, there are days I genuinely struggle to differentiate duty from desire, hustle from worth.
For example, I am dedicated to my piano practise because I have Year 12s I need to look after and play well for. I like maintaining my technique. But how often do I play for the pure joy of playing, for the creation of sound and feeling and light? And more tellingly, how often do I tell my students to do this without doing so myself? And then when I actually catch myself playing for the pure joy of playing, when my soul is alight in my fingers and the phrases roll like waves, that feeling of authenticity makes me shiver with recognition, but also simultaneously grieve my iron-clad sense of duty.
And then I wonder, how many times have I acted from that sense of duty? In the immediate sense, I am a woman of my own moral compass. I am strong, independent, joyful, and courageous. I am imaginative in my ideas, interested in the world, curious about happenings, compassionate to humankind, loving by the minute and day. But I wonder how many times I’ve had to be forcefully selfish to prove to myself that I can choose for myself. And as warped as that sounds, I am sure many of you know what I mean. That you need to go a little too hard out, a little overboard in your rest-time, spending, arguments, ideas, and so forth to make sure that you are being fully yourself, and that you are fully realising your net worth.
The fact is, you don’t. Ever.
You get to make the choice.
Quite simply, I do not have to defend anything, I can state it. Sounds great, but my goodness, in practise, that pang of lingering doubt is hard to erase.
I can walk in and just be.
Be, be, be, all of me, over and over.
With each day, I marvel that I can sit at the piano and play, and my heart rises up in what it recognises to be deep, unshakable joy and brimming self-worth, rather than just a youthful, girlish, manic sense of duty. That the words I choose do not have to be overly preppy or enthusiastic to make their point, they just have to be spoken. That I can use my time and space any way I want, and when people walk into my home, or into my presence, they share that realm with me, I don’t bend to make them comfortable. That I can sit in a conversation and be so far left of the middle, but still be gracious and calm and interested.
It’s a good place to practise being.
I took a “whumping” today. I did EIGHT hours of piano sight-reading for a full run of a musical today. But that wasn’t the “whumping” part. I said yes to it wholeheartedly, even though I knew it would be hard, nay, I knew that it would SUCK. I knew I’d be working hard, I knew that I wouldn’t know the show well enough to be able to really support and help those darling students, who desperately needed to have that strong support. But I did the absolute best that I could, and I knew this.
But I’m ruffled up. So ruffled up. Because all that was said to me was, (jokingly, of course, why wouldn’t it be?), “Are you having fun yet?” and, “Makes you really appreciate repetituers, doesn’t it?” I was deflated, even when I knew I shouldn’t be.
And it’s because I wasn’t seen and valued for the sheer courage and pure try that I was putting in that I was so deflated. That is was assumed that, because I work hard and that I’m usually so affirminlyly positive, that I would be okay, that this would be a laugh, that I’m invincible. Oh, DEAR GOD, I am NOT. I weigh it all up and AGAINST the better impetus of my well-prepared, “recovering perfectionist” self, I said yes for the greater good. I said yes because I thought I would be useful and helpful.
Just a slight dig, just a small laugh at my expense. No effing way. NO ONE gets to laugh when I’m being tender. NO ONE puts Beautiful Authentic Vulnerability and Courage in the corner.
Full stop, Baby.
And then something magical happened. I realised I stood independent from anything except my own sense of self-worth and moral compass. I don’t want for the good opinion of this careless individual, I can build my own judgement. I’m not hanging on their every word, and nor do I want for their good opinion. What I WANT is to work hard, and if that happens to line up with their values, well and good.
How free I felt when I realised this. Tired, but very, VERY free.
So let me say, openly, to The World:
Please, take care of the tender-hearted, and know that we are all so much more fragile than we show.
That it takes such courage to be tender and to give of our selves, and of our talents.
That the path to rising up is hard, but it’s the one that I want (lubricated by wine).
Don’t pay out the “courage of try”. Don’t laugh, for God’s sake. It’s too tender and fragile and beautiful.
Notice the humanity; notice the tiredness, the tenderness, the vulnerability.
And for the tender-hearted, continue to be so. The world needs you. The chocolate industry needs you. And the wine industry benefits, too.
I have been whumped, but I have to words to lift up my heart. That I dared to give this 2-dimensional person so much more credit than they deserved…well, let me give that right back to me, baby!
Now that I’ve progressed through half a packet of Haigh’s dark chocolate almonds, I’m moving on to a nice glass of soul-soothing red and an overstuffed, dribbling, cheese quesadilla.