Singing opera is good for me. It comes from unstoppering the wellspring of my heart, allowing my internal stream to pour into the forgiving air.
I am not the best at it. Waiting for my turn to practice with the accompanist today, I remembered how that wellspring felt crushed beneath a landslide of rejections from every single vocal performance program to which I applied my senior year of high school.
Standing in the narrow hallway, getting side-ways eyes from the voice majors also in line, I felt grateful. Not that the accompanist let me in even though I was late, but that I had never gotten into a top voice program. Music is not the place I need to spend all of my time because it is too comfortable. Like living at home during college, I could not have grown and twisted and broadened and deepened myself as I have in the last four years if I had lived my time in a comfortable place.
To choose everyday to sing and love it even though I know I am not the best is good for me. Too often in college I am asked to narrow my life into those pockets of skills where I am extremely secure. But knowing my German or breath-support or posture would disqualify me from auditions at the Met, and continuing to sing, gives me freedom. With music, the penalties for bursting my banks are so much smaller than in my other studies; I can shape my own internal relationship with the songs and no one can contradict me.
Opera reminds me of a healthy relationship with ignorance, and what it means to be home.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”–Maya Angelou