This was a year of transition, more than progress, and of making hard choices for long term benefits. At the end of last year, I made a commitment to change just about everything in my life to more aggressively pursue my goals as a musician. Literally moving across the country made these hard decisions more concrete. I shed material possessions and a lifestyle, and let go of people and comforts that I enjoyed, but helping me toward my ultimate goal. Of course, some distractions were beyond my control. The odd thing with giving up a number of things is that I realized that many of those things were artificial and offered no support, and did not actually help me. The things that I let go, that were actually supporting me, like dear friendships, have remained despite the distance. So losing the artificial was like shedding extra weight as I prepare to take flight.
I’ve always been frustrated with my inability to simply “take flight.” I’ve felt blocked and stymied by internal or external forces. Something must be done first – some achievement, some technical ability just beyond my reach.
I have been told in many a lesson: If you would just relax your jaw. You don’t need to work so hard, just relax. My internal monologue became focused on my inability to relax. If I could just figure out how to relax, I’d be done. “Relax” is a tricky word and it has nothing to do with my natural state of being. For me it implies a lack of energy. There is no life or vitality in “relaxing.” I have plenty of energy. While it may not always be focused or channeled in the right direction, it is always there. Therefore, asking me to be without energy is to deprive me of something inherent – to take away something that I am. Relaxing while I sing does not work.
I spent some tangential time in politics this year. I met a number of influential people who have inspired me and was able to focus some energy on something that runs parallel to my passion for art. I believe that art has the power to change the world, but I spent some time working with the people who work daily to be agents of that change.
The recurring word of my time with politics was freedom. I am passionate about it – it is a prevailing theme in my favorite operas: Tosca, La Traviata, Suzannah and more. Freedom to say what we think, express what we feel, and to love who we love is vital. It is the passionate desire of the greatest characters in opera. As these ideas bounced around in my head, I started thinking about all the different applications of this word so embedded in our Western culture. This word can embolden the coward and frighten the powerful. However as an artist it embodies the very essence of being.
The concept of freedom as a singer, as an artist, is so much more powerful for me than relaxing. I have the freedom to take chances. I must have the freedom to let what I am, be. I have everything I need within myself to have the adventure of a lifetime. I must sing with freedom. I must not allow restrictions on my art from internal or external forces. I must be free to go where I will. I must be free to fail utterly. I must be absolutely free to succeed beyond my wildest dreams. This year is my year and I will Live Free, I will sing free, I will be free.