“What are the circumstances/events/people in my life that make it possible for me to betray mySelf? It’s never about the other thing – it’s always about me becoming unwilling to be authentically mySelf.” That is what Louise, the founder of the Wel-Systems Institute®, wrote about a conversation she had with Sheila Winter-Wallace, an affiliate of the institute.
This came to me at just the right moment, I know. For the last few weeks, I’ve been living in chaos – going through the motions of each day and being with my best friend and not being with myself. I love music. I cannot imagine my life without it. I’m always singing along to the radio or making up tunes about people and events in my life. I’ve always done this. Music has been the way for me to reveal myself and to be myself and to be with myself– the conduit for me to express how I feel. I know that I cannot make music and be mad – noise, yes but music, no. When I sing for myself, making music is joyful and free. It is easy and fun and I have the best blast! And then I want to share my love of music with others and so I wonder how I can do that? In the past, I’ve chosen what I know. I’ve sung in Kiwanis and I’ve given two solo concerts and I’ve sung music exams and I’ve been in a summer opera program and a G & S scene program. I’ve sung in choirs and I’ve been a choir director. And slowly over the last two years, I’ve lost the joy of music. I’ve been hobbled by the old belief that what I do must have some form of measurable product – that there must be something which demonstrates what I’ve been doing and what I’ve accomplished. And in honoring that old belief, I’ve lost myself. I’ve been performing for others and doing for others.
Last week, I sang a grade 9 voice exam. With a cold and an ear infection – real ones this time and not caused by nerves or fear of not measuring up. I already have my grade 9 voice so this wasn’t about getting the paper so that I could then do the grade 10 and on and on. As my best friend reminded me, this didn’t matter. I just wanted to sing for someone other than my teacher or myself. And I did that. I kept on singing and I didn’t have any tongue tension or lock up my chest wall. It wasn’t perfect but I sang and I felt good about myself when the experience was over. And I realized as I was driving back to my friend’s that I didn’t care anymore about what others said or thought. It just didn’t matter anymore. I gave myself this experience to learn for myself what I wanted and what I didn’t want.
Yet, I felt like I’d lost something and I didn’t know what will replace it. I realize that I’ve felt like I’ve lost myself because I don’t know what I’m singing anymore and why I’m choosing to have lessons anymore.
And, I gave mySelf time to be in the chaos and breathe through the waves that moved through me. And now, I’ve made a choice. I’ve decided that I’m going to sing what I want to sing because I love the melody and the words. I’m going to take charge of my experience. And I’m going to speak to my teacher about what’s been going on for me for the last year and a bit and see what ideas he can provide me that I can choose or not choose. And I may continue to take lessons from him or not. I’ll choose for mySelf about that.
So, I know that I have not been true to mySelf about music and singing and writing it for the last year and a bit. I’ve explored the avenues that I’ve always known about ways to share the joy and fun and love. And I know that these ways do not answer any need in me. They are not for me. Now, I’m going to explore other ways to share and consider what else I can choose to do.
That is what we can all give ourselves: permission to live with not knowing; permission to listen to ourSelves, permission to choose what resonates with our authentic selves; permission to be first and blaze our own trails and follow our own path. We can give ourSelves permission to create culture in ways which honor the truth of who we know ourSelves to be.