*This is cross-posted at rwoodmass.wordpress.com.*
“What I knew for sure from this experience with you is that we are all called. Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it. Every time we have seen a person on this stage who is a success in their life, they spoke of the job, and they spoke of the juice that they receive from doing what they knew they were meant to be doing. …Because that is what a calling is. It lights you up and it lets you know that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. And that is what I want for all of you and hope that you will take from this show. To live from the heart of yourself. You have to make a living; I understand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.”
-Oprah Winfrey, Farewell
I am currently living the 25th year of my life as Rebecca. These past 25 years of my life have been wonderful, full of discovery, philosophy, and experimentation. I am young and full of potential, but I am no longer a child, and it is time for me to start putting all my youthful passion and dreaming into action. It is time, as Oprah says, to ‘get about the business of doing it’.
Alot of people talk about ‘what they do’, especially in the business of art. In fact, there is alot of talk in general, and I suspect not nearly as much actually ‘doing’ as there is talking. The reason I suspect talkers talk more than they do is because I am one of those people. I paint – but do I really paint? I dance – but how often do I really dance? I sing – but do I really put in the daily time required to be the best that I can be?
Everyone has the capacity to dream, and to imagine. Everyone is inspired by those who take risks in order to do what makes them feel most alive, whether that is a simple trip to South America, or quitting their day job to open a clothing store. And many people convince themselves that doing what makes one feel alive is a luxury given only to those who have money, or who are unattached to family or job, or who are younger and have their whole life ahead of them, or who are foolish enough to give up a stable financial situation for a castle on a cloud, or who are simply more courageous than they are. To follow your heart’s intuition; it seems like such a massive, heavy task.
To follow your heart’s intuition is, in fact, very simple. All it requires is this simple question: What can I do today that makes me feel alive? The answer to the question does not have to cost money, or allow you to earn money, or require an overabundance of time. It can be as simple as singing a song as you do the dishes instead of listening to the radio, or sitting down in front of a blank piece of paper for fifteen minutes and writing or drawing what comes into your mind space. If you can start to move your passion or your ‘calling’ into a simple, daily, action, your ‘dream’ will become what you do. There is no need to wait for a change in life situation or a sudden burst of courage. If you start to put energy into what you love to do, energy will flow back to you, and your passion will begin to expand.
For me, this summer, it has been about overcoming the bitterness and hurt from a fairly unfruitful audition season by making what I talk about what I do. Singing in the metro requires courage, to be sure, and a thick skin; people do occasionally tell me to be quiet. However, this simple activity of one hour per day has made me realize that I can do what I do without the validation or permission of any casting director, conductor or artistic administrator. Underground, I have a loving, appreciative audience that truly wants me to succeed – and thinks I should have a better stage than the subway platform. All I have to do to earn their attention is to make the most beautiful sound possible, and exude the joy I feel when I sing. When I do not, they just walk by – it is an amazing guage of whether or not I am actually investing everything I have into the music.
In the end, it is all about joy.