Saturday, December 31, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
photo: Kate Gazaway
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
I had been desperately craving to get away. Not in the usual wanderlusting-can't-stay-in-one-spot sort of way. I needed to be alone, to breathe without uttering words in conversation. It was a strange craving for someone like myself - someone that thrives off the words from good conversation, the verbal or non-verbal company of someone else. But it was undeniably a part of me and a part of me that I would soon remedy, given the first opportunity.
This first opportunity arrived for me in the form of spring break. The studios & school that I teach for were all taking this break on the same week, hallelujah! I quickly began researching hostels on the east coast, found a cheap one in Charleston, and made my way there on the night of April 20. My car was packed and I had Ollie, the travel owl and my bicycle for company.
Once there, I made a list of vows for myself - vows of "mostly silence." My life is filled with people, talking, conversation, introductions. All beautiful things, but it is my belief that an excess of anything is in need of a break at some point.
And yes, I was at that point.
One of these vows required me to write as much as possible, ESPECIALLY when I wanted to talk about it instead. I frequently begin talking about issues and struggles before I really let them steep and sit and be meditated upon. I am not against talking to someone you trust about the things you go through, but I do believe I am at fault for too quickly speaking and not enough time spent in thinking things through first.
Which leads me to the point of this note: my journal gained a good number of ink-filled pages throughout the duration of my stay in Charleston. This week I plan to post the thoughts I feel most publicly appropriate - lessons learned in solitude. Lessons learned in steeping. Lessons learned in resting.
We'll keep it light and simple for the first couple of posts.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
"You Probably Shouldn't Be Here."
When I entered college with intentions to be a music student, I thought I could somehow get away with using my voice as little as possible. The plan was to sing in the less-strict, non-audition choir on campus so that I could meet my needed ensemble requirements and hide away with my composition papers for the rest of the time.
But, of course, this was not going to work out for me.
After studying my schedule more closely, I realized the only large ensemble that would work was, without a doubt, the ever-strict, audition-only Concert Choir.
I had never been in a "real choir" before. I'd never made it past the mostly-elderly, lightly-populated church choir of my quiet, Southern Baptist upbringing.
So you can possibly imagine the fear that welled up inside of me as I prepared myself for my first vocal audition.
I remember entering the choir director's office - quiet, timid, sure that I would be rejected the moment he realized I had no experience singing with professional groups. I handed him my application. After scanning the information, he asked what "part" I sang. "Um, I'm not sure. In church choir, they always made me sing the soprano lines." (What a lame answer! I was done for!)
He sat the paper down on the desk, looked at me and said, "If you're not sure of what part you sing, I don't even know that you should be here, auditioning for choir. And we really need altos, anyway. (silence) But since you're here, we may as well hold the audition."
At this point, I almost felt relieved. Good, I won't get in! Now they'll HAVE to stick me in somewhere else!
He began doing various exercises to find my vocal range and I sang in as much ease as I knew how. I was already at the bottom, so I had nowhere to go but up, right? We then reached the most trying point of auditions: sight-singing.
The summer before entering college, my mother "warned" me of this "sight-singing," this panic-inducing terror used by music professors to strike fear in the hearts of their students. So, on a few occasions, she would hand me a sheet of music that I had never seen before, play the first note of the phrase, and make me guess the rest. I really didn't put too much thought into it past those few moments.
Until this moment.
Just as my mother had prepared me, the choir director played the first note of the line and left the rest up to me. When I finished, he seemed surprised and said, almost to himself, "Huh. That was better than most of my upperclassmen."
The dreaded audition process ended soon after and his parting words to me were, "Well, I think we can give you a spot in the alto section."
And that. Was that.
But in my heart, "that" was much bigger.
"God, what did you sign me up for?" A sense of joy, of excitement began to fill me. The choir director's doubts had been proven wrong! I couldn't have predicted this outcome if I had tried.
And so, for the next four years of my life, I experienced "real choir." My spring breaks were always decided for me, as we spent the week touring around a part of the United States or another part of the world. My "free" hours of the day lessened due to extensive rehearsals and campus concerts. My ears always ringing with the sound of vocal student friends belting out their latest soulful rendition of our semester's repertoire. And I would not have traded it for the world.
I knew, as I would soon see in many other instances, that God did not hold a desire for me to half-heartedly sing in the background, in the seemingly easier paths of mediocrity. I was to pursue this gift with excellence, always. I am to pursue this with excellence, always.
Maybe I don't always know what part to sing. At least, not yet. Maybe it's when I am at the bottom with nowhere else to go but up, that I am able to sing with ease. Because His promises are greater than what my straining eyes cannot yet see. So yes, excellence. Always.
Even if I am told I probably shouldn't be here.