Winter 2011 continued its slow attack on my sanity this week by allowing yet another cough to creep into my chest, thereby leaving me hoarse for most of the week. Although I’m feeling fine now, I am still struggling with vocal quality, which meant I had to mark at dress rehearsal today.
“Marking” is an umbrella term for all the ways that singers take it easy on their voices during taxing rehearsals. Some people speak or mouth the words, some people sing softly, some sing in a different octave than the music is written. I’ve been blessed with vocal stamina and have rarely had to mark in rehearsals, but I knew if I didn’t do so today things could get ugly.
This production is up in New Hampshire, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to sing. In Boston, if I marked during rehearsal, half of the other singers would secretly hope that I didn’t get better so they could upstage me, and possibly push me down the stairs for good measure after. In New Hampshire, people speak in wild hyperbole about my talent even when I’m raspy, and seem to really be looking out for me even though we’ve just met.
After rehearsal today one of the chorus members approached me to say that her husband was an Attunement Practitioner. The director, who I know and trust, said she had just worked with him the day before. She thought he could work with me that afternoon if I wasn’t feeling well. To be more specific, he could rearrange my energies. Or something like that.
What I did next may surprise those who know me. A little known fact is that the only thing I enjoy more than cynically deriding things I don’t understand is irrational risk-taking. Drunk on the hospitality of New Hampshire, I decided to be the open-minded person I want to be rather than the rigid person I am, which is how I ended up on a table in a stranger’s sitting room participating in a process so off the beaten path that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.
I’m not going to overthink what turned out to be a highly therapeutic afternoon. While I lay in the sun I loosened up significantly, and whether it was him, me or the Holy Ghost facilitating the relaxing doesn’t change the tingling and restfulness I felt. When I sat up I quipped wryly (after nearly 45 minutes of not saying anything snarky – perhaps a new record) that I wished I could relax like that when I was asleep.
I don’t relax. I don’t mark. When life hands me lemons I exert all my power to smash those everlovin’ lemons until I have made them submit, and we all drink a big pitcher of lemonade sprinkled with aggressiveness. One of my father’s favorite suggestions when we can’t get something to work how we want it is to “find a bigger hammer”. After years of things getting broken you’d think I’d learn.
Muscling one’s way through life has its benefits, but it needs to be tempered by the realization that sometimes life works just fine on its own and we need to relax our way into it. A few weeks ago I was terribly fatigued at work after a very busy week filled with the million little commitments to which I am bound, and the thought actually crossed my mind that “I wouldn’t be so tired if I weren’t so weak”. Um, no, I wouldn’t be so tired if I weren’t so busy.
So tonight I rest quietly and plan to sleep well, in hopes that tomorrow my voice will be back, knowing there is nothing I can do to force it.
My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.
Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; and let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather — as skies
Betweenpie mountains — lights a lovely mile. – Gerard Manley Hopkins