Control is an Illusion
July is half-gone and I'm just getting to the monthly column. I'm still trying to get caught up from things that happened in May. Each year I intend that the year will be a fabulous one. Each year, it is, but it does not happen without "growth experiences:" "interesting" events that challenge me and force me to develop more coping skills.
I've decided that this year's lesson are designed to teach me, once and for all, that "control" is an illusion. I need to be change-ready. I cannot be complacent or stuck in a rut. I get to roll with the punches and take things in stride. Easy to write cliches. Not so easy to live them.
If I list all of the bizarre and annoying things that happened, you'd think my life was less-realistic than a sitcom on TV.
Not what I was planning. I was supposed to have the house completely cleaned out and the yard work done by now. I still have 5 rooms to clean and an entire basement to rebuild. The only "yard work" I've done is rebuilding the output from my sump pump and cut down a 7'-tall thistle I named Audrey. If the front yard wasn't a swamp, I could get a haying machine in and feed horses for months.
By today, I was supposed to be caught up and free to spend the rest of the month revising my novel--remember the one I wrote last winter? Instead, I'll be weed-whacking grass that's up to my shoulders and putting 6 folders of pictures onto web sites.
So, what does this have to do music and performing?
In the middle of all of this, I helped produce and performed at the Pikes Peak Cowboy Gathering at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs. I intended to print up posters and distribute them. I intended to solicit donations for the silent auction and sponsorships to help pay the performers. I was lucky to show up on the day with all the things I was supposed to bring with me.
I was asked to bring my sound system in case the one provided wasn't sufficient. It was. But, I was ready, just in case.
We'd planned to have the main performances outside and an open stage, quieter than the main stage, inside. The bulk of the attendees were inside, the wind came up, rain threatened, and it was decided to move the show inside. That decision was made during the time I was performing on the main stage. I finished my poem and helped move the CDs and silent auction tables inside. It coincided with the end of the silent auction, so I put on my treasurer's hat and handled the payments for the silent auction items.
I was supposed to perform a couple of co-written songs with my co-writer. He went out for lunch and didn't get back in time for my set. Because I brought the sound system, I had no room for my guitar. A friend said I could use hers, but she was using it on the indoor stage while I was on stage outside. So, I changed my set on the fly. After we moved inside and I finished my treasurer duties, I joined my co-writer on stage for one of our two co-written songs.
We can practice all we want to get our material solid, but we can't practice handling changes.
We can't control the bizarre things that happen on stage. Band mates get sick or tied up in traffic, but the show must go on. Outdoor stages are subject to weather. Sound systems fail. Electricity goes out. The best day for ticket sales has an unexplainable lull in attendance.
No, we can't control those things. But we can control how we react to them.
We can get upset and throw temper tantrums. We can act like a 2-year-old deprived of a cookie. It's expected in a 2-year-old. It should not be expected in a professional performer.
So, we can choose to roll with the punches and take things in stride. We can laugh it off and include the audience in the joke. I introduced the poem I wrote to Ernie Martinez's music, turned to my right and said, "Take it, Ernie." But Ernie hadn't made it back from lunch and wasn't there. I turned back to the audience and said, "I guess you'll have to imagine the music."
They laughed, and one man yelled, "What key is it in?"
"A, I think. 4/4 time." I laughed then performed the poem without music. I still got applause.
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