Monday, March 17, 2014

12. APPLAUSE

(today's random word is, believe it or not,  APPLAUSE)


I’m talking to my sister Ann Marie on the telephone tonight as I lift the lid to my laptop and click on the Random Word Generator.  Ann Marie is a gift of a sister, in many ways.  All my sisters are gifts.  No slight to my brothers, who are also blessings in my life.  Ann Marie starts talking about using one of my daily Lent writings in a church lesson and I tell her how much I appreciate her comments on my posts. I reaffirm my promise to do this daily writing exercise for myself and my Lord, and not for “show”.  But, I say, it’s a difficult thing because the knowledge that I am putting something out there for others to read makes me write with more diligence, but it also fills me with lots of self doubt.  An audience changes everything.

An audience changes the way I sing, as well.  There’s an energy exchange that draws out very internal and sacred things. I love singing at my Christmas concerts because I know people have laid down their hard earned money to be there and they have certain expectations, and with that expectation comes what feels like an open heart to partake of what I have to give.  I don’t know if I am explaining this very well, I tell her. 

Anyway, I appreciate Ann Marie commenting on my posts because it kind of feels like I’m doing a dance recital and no one applauds between the dances.  It’s ok for the first few numbers, but then the feet get a little reluctant, and funny thoughts run through the head as you spin there on stage and at some point you think that maybe you’ll do the old “exit stage left” cuz you’re making a fool of yourself.  The Devil plays with your mind and your ego and…well, it’s just weird.  I think the process of repeating my writing exercise every single day, regardless of how tired I am or how uncreative or unphilosophical I am feeling, makes it more pronounced than it would otherwise be.  I have an adult commitment to write during Lent. But I guess I have a childlike relationship with applause. I spill my guts to my sister, who is all encouragement and love. So then I hang up and turn to my Lenten task. It's 11:30 at night.

Then, no joke, I pull up the Random Word Generator and the word that pops up is applause.  I kid you not.

I remember the very first time I received applause for a song I wrote.  It was in a stake talent night in Pittsburgh.  Even though it was in the chapel, the stake president had indicated that it was appropriate under the circumstances of the event that we should applaud. So Dave and I got up there and I tickled my guitar and we sang this little song I wrote about Spencer and Camilla Kimball.  I’d like to say that I felt fine about our performance regardless of the reaction of the audience.  But truth be known, it totally made my heart pound to hear people clapping.  Seriously.  It was probably as close as I’ll get to how it feels to be high.  I wish applause didn't matter to me.

Thinking back on my past performances, and there have been many, I ask myself if I am letting my ego dictate my musical development. I decide that audience reaction for sure makes a difference in how I feel about my work, and it also affects the quality of the performance.  But there are many times when I do not receive applause.  I sing in church a lot.  You have to learn to appreciate silence when you do that. I also sing to audiences about once a week where there is little clapping, mostly because those to whom I sing are in altered mental and physical states.  Still, I feel the same drive and energy when I sing to those silent crowds. So it’s not that my ears and eyes need to have that affirmation.  I guess just my heart does. Maybe I feel the angels clapping.

After dinner tonight we were talking about something and it reminded me of a performance of some songs I had been commissioned to write for a church program.  After the performance I was in the lobby, greeting people.  One man came up to me and shook my hand.  “You did a nice job,” he said.  I thanked him, and he looked me in the eye.  “No, really, you did!  In fact, I think it was actually above average.”
I nodded, pursing my eyebrows as I processed the compliment, and thanked him once again.

So maybe there are some comments that are better left unsaid.  The problem is, I imagine all the unsaid comments are those: the ones that indicate that non-dancers really shouldn’t be dancing. I have to push those thoughts away. I tell myself that lack of response is part of the sacrifice. Even so, I secretly picture my sister Ann Marie standing in the kitchen in her pajamas and she is clap clap clapping, and it doesn’t really matter why.  I just like the sound.

7 comments:

  1. Oh my Oh my Oh my….you are amazing…and don't you dare let any one of any lack of applause make you think otherwise…That…is from your mother. She told me so!! I try to think of what our lives would be like if you were not there to capture those moments forever for us. That we may relive them again and again and again. And yes, all the way from my California kitchen I AM clapping. And I will continue to clap and clap and clap. But I seriously cannot believe that APPLAUSE came up on your word generator. Life is funny that way isn't it. Please let me be your applause generator even from afar. I love you!!

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  2. I'll clap too! I know it's hard to write when nobody comments. I wonder why people never leave comments on blog posts anymore? I promise we all love your words. Please keep writing! Ann Marie and I will clap as long as you dance!

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  3. Ok, so this one has inspired me, once and for all, to take 30 minutes to figure out why I can't comment! :)
    Lo and behold, I think I might have finally overcome the Google obstacle. I love you and LOVE reading your words, despite my silent responses thus far. Honestly, I bet many people are like me - commenting doesn't work well on my phone and that's how I read all your posts! I've tried commenting several times and as soon as I click 'publish,' the comment disappears into to some internet abyss. Drats!
    I'm sure there are oodles of people basking in the warmth and loveliness of your writing. It's a gift to us all, even if we can't quite figure out how to technologically thank you for that gift. :). Thank you for writing!!!

    PS - even as I wrote this comment, my phone typewriter stopped allowing me to type in the comment box. I had to cut & paste them into a note, then copy and paste back into the comment box. So...know that I am love, love, loving these words you write, even if the comments aren't there!

    PPS - and...then...it made me do this 'verify you're not a robot' thing and, again, my phone typewriter wouldn't register any typing into the field. I had to refresh the screen over and over again and keep attempting to type while it randomly decided whether or not to register my typing.

    So...if it took this much for my comment to work, know that many have probably tried to comment and had trouble jumping through all the hoops! I think if you're reading from a desktop/laptop/PC, it'd be light years better.

    Phew - that was a LOOOONG comment that really was just meant to say - keep writing! I love it, even though commenting on it isn't working well with my phone.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, My Boo. Thank you for explaining, and for the monumental effort to make a comment. :) Maybe I should dump this post because looking at it, it does appear like I am whining. Bleh on me for that!
      Love you muchly!

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