Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 71: My hour of discontent

(for the Shakespeare scholars, I know it's "winter" of discontent, but "winter" seemed to imply something more than what I wanted to say.)

I went to a most delightful cabaret show on Friday, called The Kid Inside, conceived and performed by the fabulous Alissa Hunnicutt (I only wish she had more performances of it I could steer you all to!).  Her song selection, arrangements, singing, use of puppetry (yes, cabaret with puppets) were all top-notch.  I enjoyed it so much that I left the club in a fit of depression.

Yes, depression.  It brought back the ache of missing singing with such force that I felt like someone had just unplugged me.  All my sense of purpose with my writing, my goals to get this play done, to see where this blog will take me, all the clarity I've felt about pursuing this new path -- poof.  Gone. And left in its place a giant, gaping, still-smoking hole in the ground.

I miss singing.

When my boyfriend asked me what my plans were for last night, I told him "drinking myself into a stupor is sounding pretty good about now."  He encouraged me to spend the time in a way I would feel good about, whether just playing the piano for an hour, or doing something fun (instead of just wallowing in my misery, was the implied second half of that advice).  I remembered back to a therapist who helped me discover that singing the songs I most loved as a star-struck teenage musical theater nerd was a great way to get me out of anxiety attacks.  I thought perhaps it might help for this fit of depression (with a lower-case 'd') as well.  So I came home, put dinner in the oven, poured myself a martini, and pulled out my music.

I started with some opera arias.  It's nice to know that I can still do that.  Then I pulled out some of my favorite old cheesy heart-wrenching musical theater ballads: Tell Me on a Sunday, Someone Else's Story, Send in the Clowns.... My voice felt in better shape than it's ever been (though it's possible there was a little bit of the martini talking there).  I started to get ideas about auditioning again, because my little ambition brat doesn't know how to sit in the corner and be still.  While that is a question for another day, at the moment I am duly reminded that I love this, I need this in my life.  Plans are already in the works for some kind of cabaret show with some other phenomenal singers in the not-to-distant future.   Because I am the crazy woman who can't stop giving herself projects.  Because I always want more.

"It's good to want more" my best friend told me yesterday.  Yes, I suppose it is.  It keeps me moving, keeps me striving, keeps me living.  But what about when it keeps me from being happy where I am?   I would love to be content with where I am, and still want more.  Is that possible?  Doesn't contentment breed complacency?  I think I've always looked at contentment as a cop-out, the easy road, boring.  I remember writing an essay in high school about preferring a life of exhilarating highs and devastating lows to a life of even contentment.  Because then at least you get the exhilarating highs.  I held on to that belief for many many years and made a lot of my life choices based on it.  That belief was a lot easier to hold at 16 than at 38.  I've had a lot more of the "devastating lows" now (especially in the last couple of years).  Contentment is looking a little shinier to me these days.

Even if I do find my way to embracing contentment -- and I'm working on it --  I know I don't ever want to be complacent.  I will always be striving for something, that is who I am.  I also know that unless (until?) I somehow end up with a career as a singer, I will always have this ache, the way I will always miss my grandmother.  It won't always be at the surface, and I'll go long stretches without noticing it or shedding a tear.  But just as every once in awhile I will feel my grandma's presence and miss her as fiercely as I did when she died 13 years ago, so will I also feel the little 8 year old girl inside me who is watching Patti LuPone on stage and saying "I want to be Evita when I grow up".  I think she will always be there, egging me on.  She's egged me on to a lot of incredible musical experiences in my life, if not to an actual money-making career.  Maybe I can learn to be content with that.
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