One of the things artists like me deal with on a daily basis is the question of what am I doing, and why am I doing it. Add to that the need to do whatever it is we can do to make a buck, get noticed, or be heard. I’m so used to it that although it wears me out, I don’t question whether it could be any other way. I know it could be if only I got a regular job that involved a time clock, a job description, and a hierarchy within which to work and climb upward.
In the last month, I’ve had two stories chosen for publication, two new songs released on itunes, one photograph framed and sold, a job offer from a music conservatory, a very tempting but impossible option to buy the piano of my dreams, a reading and writing workshop in upstate New York, a request to lead a vocal workshop also in New York, an opportunity to sing with some of the finest musicians in Colorado, and a five-day gig cooking food for the jazz camp (50 people) that descends on our home every July. It’s a Pandora’s box, a plethora of cool stuff that thrills me and confuses me all at the same time. Each success reminds me that I have dreams and skills that I want to use. I say to myself ok, this is it. This is the thing I’m good at. This is what I’ll focus everything on. What I never remember or notice is that my erratic, changeable life could drive another person crazy. That other person would be wondering all of the time, what is she doing? Why is she doing it? What does she want? And will she ever get it? They're the same questions I ask myself but with a different kind of anxiety.
For me, there’s a thrill in uncertainty (not all the time, but generally speaking). I love not knowing what’s going to happen next. I thrive on the unexpected or the surprise that comes years after I’ve done something, when someone writes and tells me about something they heard or read of mine that lifted them out of a funk, or caused them to write or sing something of their own.
So here I am today, pooped from cooking too many meals. I don’t feel like playing the piano or the guitar, I don’t feel like writing another essay or organizing pages I’ve already written. I’m saying to myself, ya know, I could just lie here on the couch and read a book. And then I get an email from a writer friend and she tells me she’d watched the video of me singing “Summertime” with those musicians who are so good, and she suggested that I make an album of lullabies because she’s always wanted to and she can’t sing so well, and suddenly I feel like writing, I want to tell you about the songs we put up on itunes and how much I love them, I want to share the video my friend saw, and I say to myself the book can wait another 30 minutes while I write something in my blog. One letter from one friend saying what I do is meaningful to her and my energy is revitalized. Her email reminds me of how Garrison Keillor ends his daily Writer’s Almanac segments on NPR: “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” Good advice for all kinds of reasons.
Links to new tunes on itunes:
From The Hunger Games, a song called "The Hanging Tree"
And my song "I'm in Love" re-worked by Paul Opalach and Mike Marble. Fun fun fun!
The link to the “Summertime” video:
And the photograph I sold: