Saturday, September 30, 2006


Before I left for Atlanta, I had a session with my therapist in which we discussed my anxieties. We talked about how it was going to be a bit of an adjustment to go back to work after such a nice, long, vacation, and we discussed my nervousness about a couple of auditions that I have coming up. As I sat in the sleek, black leather chair opposite her, complaining of my nervousness that I was going to fail at these upcoming auditions, she studied me and heard me out patiently. When I was done, she said something to me about gratitude. She pointed out that I am very lucky to be doing what I am doing for a living and to be at the level I am working at. She said that gratitude was something that I should think about in the coming weeks, because it would bring about a sense of humility. Her voice combined with my mother’s voice in my mind as I heard her say this, and memories of my mother screaming at me how lucky I was and how I was a spoiled brat ignited in the back of my mind. As I listened to her, I felt admonished. I felt like I was being proud and that my anxiety about my auditions was coming from a place that was ungrateful and spoiled.

Some of the cast here in Atlanta went out to dinner one night, and over our meal we shared stories of how we got into classical music and opera. As our sushi arrived, one person began to share his story about the first time he heard Mimi’s first act aria from La Bohème. A woman was singing it in a master class, and he just sat there in astonishment. After the class, he went up to her and asked her what it was. As he sat there and told the story, he remembered spreading his arms wide, his eyes widening, and saying, “What is this music?”, incredulous that something so beautiful and moving could exist. He ran to Tower Records immediately after the class, bought himself a recording of the opera, and went home and stayed up until 3 AM listening to it, tears streaming down his cheeks. The sense of wonder in his voice made me smile, as I remembered for myself what a blessing it is for us to make something so beautiful on a daily basis for a living.

Some weeks later, I am now realizing how my personal baggage really skewed the message that my therapist was trying to deliver in my session that day. It was not an admonishment, but kind counsel. Gratitude does bring a sense of humility to our lives, but humility is what brings us a sense of wonder and awe for our lives and the world we live in. It allows us to be open to the immense beauty of the things that surround us, and keeps us from taking those things for granted. Without that sense of awe and wonder, the sense of fun and adventure is lost in things, and it is too easy to focus on the negative and the little worries and anxieties that try to pervade our minds everyday.

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