Shiva uses his sword to penetrate reality, and I like the merge with the Luke Skywalker. It brings it (occidentally) home. "Saber" in Spanish is "to know". Light needs dark matter to discover itself. In the interplay of shadows and light it´s not what you look at, but what you see.
The other day I
found myself in a Greek Operetta concert quite by accident. As I went to the little bar at the back I
met a friend of mine and found out he was singing. He was excited to be a guest
singer, because the other artists had come from the staggering heights of Athens and were professional
Greek Operetta singers. I know Lefteris, I’ve been in his rehearsals a
couple of times and I’ve heard him singing on stage and I know he’s a good
singer. Meanwhile he is telling me how honoured he is to be singing with these
people because he says “…they are a really high level.”
So the concert
starts only half an hour on time (only the English would call it late) and Lefteris
presents from the podium the professionals from Athens, who it has to be said,
were touching on the slightly ridiculous, in the crumbling building of Paros'
little municipal hall, with their stances as if they were in a huge
international opera hall. They had their artist outfits on, ever so slightly
toned down for the occasion with the noticeable absence of dickie bows, but
sporting butterfly shirt collars for the men and the lady wore a romantic red
ball gown. They certainly looked the part. They had reasonably good voices for
professionals, though in my opinion somewhat dulled, held back somehow, as if
the volume was just a little lower than necessary. All except the bass, who
stood on stage as if he were a Male Madonna, nose held high, staring to the
skies in whimsical anticipation…and he sang with wonderful deep timber tones
that vibrated through bodies into those places where the emotions lie hidden.
All was fine and
dandy and very professional given where and who we were. It has to be said Paros is not short of talent since its energy and
landscape attracts all sorts of highly cultured artists especially musicians
and painters, and these singers were no different. They fitted in perfectly
with their class performance of Greek Operetta.
And then the
moment came, when Lefteris announced the Fairy song and I knew from our little
talk at the bar, that it was his big moment: his chance to sing with the big
boys. On came the bass with the big nose pointing to the imaginary stars,
poetically leaning on the piano ready to be painted by El Greco, with his
impeccable dress smelling of roses. Meanwhile my friend was on the other side of
the stage, with wrinkles in his clothes as if he had been scrunched up long
hours at a computer, and his chosen stage stance was: shoulders slightly
hunched. He looked as if having knocked on the wrong door he had suddenly been
exposed to the limelight when he had been expecting to go home for a fish and
chip dinner, or rather, lets say a mousaka.
The nose sang
first, his deep timbres resounding around the music hut, sorry hall, and sang
with such passion that it would be difficult to accompany, but my friend, Lefteris,
did just that. He was transformed. He opened his mouth and allowed his sweet
strength of fragility to vibrate in waves of sounds which seemed over-brimming
with that tingling sensation of love. He has such a special voice, so fresh to
be almost virginal, so filled with emotion that his voice flowed in and out
beautifully with the bass.
had another duet, which was similar to the first in the fact that he looked
like a drowned rat who suddenly shook himself off and sang like a prince.
In my untrained opinion his voice was at least equal to the two elder
singers, who to my taste were coming to the other end of their career, with big
nose leading the ceremony with his dandy ways.
Then there was a
finale of four songs in which they all sang together, and again I noticed that
they all had their studied stance, except our good old Lefteris. He somehow got
himself jammed up between the piano and the spatial needs of the red ball
gown’s expressional arm flapping and body swivelling as if there were no-one else on
stage but herself, or at least she was the only one everyone was looking at. I
wondered at one point whether he would duck and squat beneath the black grand
piano and sing in a press-up.
And yet, again,
you could hear the sweet tones of his voice merging in and out with the others
in wonderful harmony, and I realised that the only thing that separated our
hero, the amateur, from the professionals was not his voice, or his ability;
but his attitude. He simply wasn’t taking up the space he deserved. He was not
allowing his voice free bodily expression, he was not showing himself, he had
not developed a mask strong enough to take the burning attention of an
audience. He wasn’t passionately swinging around with confidence with aeroplane arms
like the others or taking the lady’s hand in an act of stage love, nor staring
to the stars or staring straight into the
audience longingly (which are all actually very effective) but instead darting about with his eyes, stood still afraid that
someone might notice he had sneaked on stage beside these divos and diva.
And there you
have it: Attitude. And I wonder if that is what many of us trip up over -
not having the attitude in accord with our skills, with our performance.
Now I am not saying to go into public doing something that you have no
idea about with an attitude of being professional, for that is simply a short
cut to looking like a prize Charlie. But once having found a talent within,
have the confidence to develop it, practise it over and over so that you are
confident, until you know you can, and then when the opportunity arises ¡man! just go for it full on
until everyone looks at you like you really are a pro, until that spark moment
when you actually believe it yourself. Then you’ve done it! It’s a matter
of having the balls to pretend til it's real.
I don’t want to
sound all holy-moly, but Jesus said in the Gnostic Gospels:
If you bring
forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not
bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
And here are
others who have had the confidence to express themselves in all their glory so
that the world has actually listened to them, and what’s more quotes them:
To fully be a
human being is to take full responsibility for one’s part in the co-creation of
the world. Joel Federman
Alas for those
that never sing, but die with all their music in them. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The things that
one most wants to do are the things that are probably most worth doing. Winifred Holtby
We are, each of
us, our own prisoner. We are locked up in our own story. Maxine Kumin
I want to sing
like birds sing, not worrying who listens or what they think Rumi
So, lets break out of our boxes a little, and swing those arms, express ourselves freely taking up
the space in our lives that we deserve. Faith in ourselves to practise, faith in ourselves to allow us to continue to our goals, and socking it a big one when the curtain goes up.
We can do it. It is us, and though never perfect enough often, it is good enough. As we put
the emphasis on our duty to express who we are, suddenly it is not so important
if we are recognised, even if there is no audience, we have the simple satisfaction and overwhelming joy
of having done it.
Let our creative expression out! Our uniqueness needs to be born into this world, what ever it is. It is time that
we took the space that we deserve in this world! If you are a writer,
claim your shelf space, if you are a dancer, dance your space, if you are a
techno-whizz, cyberspace it up, and if you are an organiser, organise…and then
even if our voice isn’t exactly up to scratch, having the right attitude and
going for it whenever we can gives us space to move towards those
steely heights rather than staying at home with our crumpled clothes on.