A reassuring lie is so much easier to grasp than an inconvenient truth.
I love how the cartoon below captures this idea.
What I hope you’re getting from the various posts I’ve done of late is this: we are all vulnerable to choosing the reassuring lie over the inconvenient truth.
We tell ourselves we want to stay true to our core beliefs. We have the courage of our convictions. We hang on to the identity we’ve constructed for ourselves.
Democrat, Republican, Independent
Good wife, upstanding citizen, smart person
I started this tack last August 3 with Blame it on the Oxytocin (with its magic spell), while watching the Republican National Convention. I continued it after my week at music camp when one of my core beliefs (I am a tenor; it’s so obvious!) was challenged.
Throughout that week, I clung to my tenor identity. And, as it was being threatened, it rose to become the most important of my many roles, my many identities.
Having two world recognized voice coaches tell me I’m actually a soprano was unfathomable. Surely something was terribly amiss.
Here I am sandwiched between Canada’s Paula Rockwell and the UK’s Tim Brown.
See last week’s post for their credentials.
I fought them the whole week, in a friendly way, of course.
“I sound terrible,” I proclaimed. “I’m not making beautiful music.”
“But you will,” they countered. “You just need to get those muscles into shape.”
Later, at our evening sing, I sat in the soprano section only to discover I was singing the soprano part, but a full octave lower. I moved back to my tenor tribe.
My tenor tribe.
I like my tenor tribe. I stayed there comfortably until Friday when I had two sessions with Paula and Tim.
Every once in a while, the sound I made was melodic. But oh, those intervening
That night, at our evening sing, I moved in with the altos. I figured I’d take it slowly, move to soprano in smaller steps.
But again, I couldn’t make music. Not the music I wanted to make. Not beautiful music.
My throat began to hurt, so I sat down and held a tearful pity party. Will I ever make music again?
I’d been challenged to sing soprano. According to these experts, soprano is my natural range, just untrained. With training (not them; they are both from other countries) I could make more beautiful music than ever.
Why am I resisting this? I asked myself.
It’s too hard.
It’s damn inconvenient, too.
Usually, I embrace challenges.
My challenge for this fall is to learn Spanish in anticipation of a trip to Cuba I’m taking with one of my grandchildren this winter. I didn’t need a second challenge!
It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself. Muhammad Ali.
That’s right. I wasn’t sure I could handle TWO challenges at one time. But what is a challenge if not something that presents a, well, a challenge?
Then I remembered: it was exactly 50 years ago this week that my swimming instructor at another summer camp told me I wasn’t going to be able to complete his life savings certification course. He told me I wasn’t a strong enough swimmer. He said I wasn’t capable enough.
I showed him!
I rose to the challenge and the lesson I learned, the exhilaration I felt from that experience, has served me well throughout my life.
There is something inherently rewarding about meeting a challenge head on and conquering it.
(That life guard certification also helped me hook my first husband, but that’s another story.)
Today, 50 years later, I find this tenor/soprano challenge is of a different sort. No one is telling me I can’t sing (either one). I think if they did, I’d be more inclined to take the bait. Instead, they are telling me I can. Their position is that singing soprano will, eventually, result in a better sound then I’ve ever made as a tenor and in a healthier set of vocal cords. But it’ll be like learning to walk again. Or speak.
I’ll have to pay attention to things I’ve come to take for granted.
Things I’ve done automatically will now need to be attended to. And I’ll need to practice.
I’m the one saying I can’t. I’m the one saying I don’t want to. I’m the one saying, it’s too much trouble. No one else is telling me that.
I just want to sing. Comfortably. I want to make beautiful music for myself in my car and for a few of my grandchildren when we visit. And I certainly want to sing well for those I sing to in the hospice choir.
What do I do?
How about you? Do you recognize challenges when they present themselves? How do you decide whether to embrace them or to
run walk away from them?
Next week: A final look at My Tenor Story and my take-away.