Let Your Story Become Your Song


Let your story become your song / and sing out for all to hear

It's nearly showtime -- just five days to curtain for my three-show run at the Howard County Center for the Arts. Lots of folks are telling me they're coming but haven't purchased tickets yet. I've sold enough to pay for the space, but not yet enough to pay for my tech folks (they are willing to work for free, but I just can't quite abide by that -- it's real work to do what they do).


I'm pretty confident it will be a good showing, but it's always a little nerve wracking to be so close to opening night and still have only about 20% of the seats filled. This has been my experience at other shows or hosted events, though -- especially in recent years, folks rarely commit to attending something until the last minute. Maybe it's FOMO -- "fear of missing out." When I lived in Southern California, I called it BOBD Syndrome -- better offer, better deal. You'd never know if a party you were throwing would have a dozen people or a hundred because no one would commit until they were sure this was their optimal opportunity.


This is but one of the many inputs that contribute to the emotional roller coaster that is part of any creative work. You take a huge risk in putting out something that is (you hope) original and (you hope) needed. I have found this week to be a particularly challenging one in the run-up to the show. I'm reasonably prepared and can see that I still have enough time to polish the last rough bits in getting performance ready. But my rehearsals have been lackluster at best and I've been pondering the reasons.


There is certainly the usual cadre of demons hissing around in the dark chambers of my consciousness -- Self Doubt and his kid brother Not Good Enough whisper relentlessly. Their pet squirrel (aptly named SQUIRREL!) is their favorite tool for distraction. I'll find myself running through a scene and inevitably let an ADD moment derail the process. Of course, I'm usually doing this alone when the temptations to allow distractions to enter are greatest.


I've also experienced the impact of this week's historic political events regarding the Kavanaugh hearings. Like many around the country, I was pretty much riveted by the testimony of Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Whatever your politics, the experience was exhausting and disheartening on so many levels. Our political discourse seems to be at its lowest point in my lifetime and perhaps since the Civil War. I can feel the weight of these issues pulling my psyche down, which drains my energy and affects my performance.


Here's the thing: our declining political climate is precisely why I decided to produce this show after sitting on it for so many years. I watch the angst in my community and profession sink in and wonder how I can help. This show speaks such a powerful message about redemption and love, it felt like one way I could contribute.


Maybe I could have come up with more practical ways to be useful -- and it's not the only way I've tried to stay involved and make a difference, but it is the one I've devoted the most energy to. Perhaps it's not even that useful. I really don't know. I know how much the power of music and the profundity of story have impacted me, so I'm simply trying to follow through on that experience and share what I can.


A couple of weeks ago, Kym gave me the large canvas pictured on this blog:

let your story become your song
and sing out for all to hear

It now hangs in our living room as a reminder of how we all need to sing our songs -- however they manifest. It's a reminder I need right now.


And, now reminded, it's time to get back to rehearsing... Thanks for reading.

©2019 Ross D. Martin, MD, MHA, FACMImimi    

Some images by Steve Labkoff of Luminant Pix.