It feels good to be here for the second day in a row, sharing words from the moment, after hiding from sharing for so long. It feels good to remember that everything is impermanent - even these words that are etched into the e-sphere (foooo-reeeee-verrrrr!) ;)
I just returned from a beautiful living room show, held at the home of my upstairs neighbours. I can't tell you how amazing it felt to be sharing music to such an attentive audience - seventeen squished-in human bodies, totally silent and deeply listening.
The evening began with a beautiful poet - Phil Kwon - reading his thought-provoking, contemplative, mesmerizing words. It was apparently his first time sharing his poetry out loud, which felt extra special to me - I know what it's like to create art, and keep it insular for a long time - and then to finally allow it to seep into the consciousnesses of others. It was a truly memorable set of poetry, and I was so incredibly inspired by his thoughts and perspective. I also loved the way he began the set - inviting the listeners to join him in chanting "OM" three times... It seemed to really bring the energy of the people together, and carry everyone onto the same wavelength (not surprisingly) :)
Next, the lovely Gillian Stone sang a set of her songs. Gillian is a long-time friend and collaborator of mine - she is one of my absolute favourite humans to sing with, and one of my absolute favourite songwriters. Her melodies are perfectly meandering, her words so lyrical and image-inducing, and her voice so expressive and powerful. It was lovely to hear her songs in a new space and time, and experience a different version of these stories. And, to sing with her! I jumped in on a few songs from the audience - songs we hadn't sung together in many many moons - and it felt so delightful to feel our voices meet and merge. AH, harmonizing! There really is not much that feels better. :)
And after Gillian, I was up...
...Hm. Performance. I could write endless words about my own experiences with 'performance', and how my perspective of performance is shifting as time goes by... I will get into some of the nitty gritty of that at some point. For now, I will say - I have experienced some deep performance anxiety in my life, which has kept me from seeking out opportunities to share my music, and kept me tied up in knots of anxiousness for a period of time before and after each performance.
I feel so lucky that this experience is shifting for me. Ever since I began playing the harp, it has felt more and more effortless to 'perform'. I remember stepping into my first harp performance (about one year ago, in Nanaimo BC)... and feeling so calm - so in the moment - a totally different experience than I had ever had on a stage. That feeling has stayed with me, in varying degrees of intensity, in each of my subsequent harp performances. Though my technical expertise and dexterity on the harp is (at the moment) quite a bit lower than it is on the piano, or even the guitar, there is something about playing it that just feels so right to me.
This performance, especially, felt so calm and comfortable. I loved not having to deal with sound equipment - everything was totally acoustic - and there is something that feels so right about just resonating with the space that you are in, and the people you are in the space with. No affected sound. All real and raw. And so intimate! I was so incredibly close to the people listening, and that felt really refreshing. It was really incredible to feel everyone's energy in such a visceral way - and to be reminded that whatever 'art' is created in that moment is created by the collective energy - not just by you (the 'performer')...
And, speaking of collective energy - I decided to take a leaf out of Phil's book and begin my set by inviting everyone to sing a few tones with me. That felt beautiful - a perfect way to begin a 'set'. And later, everyone so beautifully sang with me on the choruses of 'Across the Universe' and 'Woodstock'. And reminded me that there is nothing as powerful as many human voices singing together. You can feel it allllllll the way, deep inside of your bones.
Tonight reminded me of the human-ness of art. Of the desire and need to connect. So much of performance anxiety, I think, comes from this pressure to be perfect - to play everything exactly as it should be played, and create a flawless 'show'. I felt, tonight, so at east with my mistakes - so comfortable with being a human, and expressing my art in whatever form it decided to take place in that moment. It is only our ego that keeps us from this place of content-ed-ness - this ego that tells us we must be perfect; we must be an incredible, flawless artist; we must always play the right notes, or else we will make a fool of ourself.
Dear ego: I will not heed to your crazy demands. I will be a human; I will create, and I will make mistakes. I will continue to share, with no fear of judgement or criticism. I will be who I am, without apologies or shame.
And on that note - I shall sign off and head to a place of rest. Thank you for listening to my meandering thoughts of the night, and I would love to hear your thoughts about performance, anxiety, perfectionism, or anything else that you feel called to share...