Thursday, August 14, 2008
Rain poured down in biblic proportions upon the mystic city of Safed, home of Jewish mysticism. Yet no amount thunder, lightning, sleet or hail could dampen the spirits of the multifaith ethnic music orchestra members who were about to make their debut performance in the college auditorium.
As waves of people entered, the auditorium alchemically transformed from a sea of empty white seats into a crowded swell of children and adults, knotted white prayer fringes hanging from beneath the coats of the traditional Jewish men, while multicolored kerchiefs bobbed to and fro on the heads of the observant Muslim women, punctuated with bare midrifts protruding from the teenagers' hip hugger jeans.
The concert began with the traditional eastern classical orchestral modes, revered by Jewish, Christian and Muslim cultures in the orient. Following a short interlude that allowed the religious Jewish men to politely exit (it is against their tradition to be in the presence of a woman singing in public), the singers entered onto stage.
When Harmony Clashes with Dissonance
After solo pieces were beautifully performed in Hebrew and Arabic, the flavor turned Spanish. Zohar, a beautiful student of mine from the north, left her usual pop tunes and prepared a song inspired by the flamenco tradition.
The guitar strings and percussion wove in colorful tapestry accompanying Zohar's voice as it edged it's way from softness to power to BAMM!!! - when she collapsed and suddenly fell flat on the floor.
Gasps from the shocked audience replaced the silence which just a moment before had absorbed the haunting melody from her voice. Her husband ran onstage and carried her outside to the fresh air.
The MC went outside to find out what was happening.
Survival - the Booby Prize
When unexpected disaster collapses your world and your survival seems at stake, the automatic response is to fight, flee or disappear. The problem is, most times you get stuck there - in survival mode.
Have you ever noticed that some of the most difficult and painful disasters in your life seem to occur when you are flying forward towards your positive growth and then WHOOSH, you are suddenly swept up in a hurricane of emotion and crash to the ground and the entire world seems to crumble beneath your feet?
How do you lift yourself up after you've tumbled to the ground?
Diving off the cliff so the wind can lift your wings
I jumped in to fill the gap. "Here is an opportunity for all of us to make harmony", I said. "Yeh, hell seems to have broken loose. We don't know what to do. We're not in control. Yet we are in control of how we react right now. We have a choice in how we respond to this situation.
I'd like to suggest that we contemplate Zohar's health and well-being, rather than worrying about her sickness, as we move to the next musical piece".
Music is food for the soul
The orchestra began as I went outside to see what happened. Though she was still lying on the ground, she chuckled at her improbable state. "She will not go back up on stage!" the authorities declared.
Nuts are more than just a healthy snack
This song represented a huge breakthrough for her in expressing her authentic voice and I suspected perhaps her fainting was in reaction to the excitement and breaking through a tough layer of fear.
"How are you feeling?" I asked. She looked like she really wanted to continue. "Do you feel up to continuing?" I asked, leaving it up to her to decide what was most appropriate. To my suprise, she answered, "Yes!"
The MC and college authorities looked at us in disbelief as I escorted her back onto the stage.
At this point, you may be thinking, "How crazy! How irresponsible! How dangerous!" From an intellectual perspective, this could be true. It was a risk to support her in her decision, but sometimes doing the nutty thing, when your inner guidance clearly directs you to do something, is the most healthy, responsible way to respond, even if it looks bizarre. I trusted the Higher Power to determine the outcome.
It's never to late to begin again
The guitarist and percussionist provided the musical introduction as Zohar rebalanced herself with focusing exercises we had worked with over the past few months. Her singing was stronger than ever. The rain outside turned into a thunder of applause and standing ovation from the audience, visibly moved by her act of faith and courage.
Is there a place in your life where the ground has seemed to cave in beneath your feet? What small step could you take now towards turning your failure into a round of standing ovation?
Life continues after the show is over
While singing after collapsing left Zohar with a new sense of confidence, it also left it's traces of stage fright. "Perhaps it will happen again?" she worried. Following a few more months of coaching, she asked if I would accompany her on stage in another concert and help her choose the song. I answered, yes.
My lord who is eternal and everlasting
From the sand to the sea, to the sound of the crashing of the waves
For it is in the heavens, and in the crashing thunder, where the prayer of man is heard
Those are the words of the Hebrew spiritual we sang; Eli Eli. The live performance that you see see here, was composed in the moment, on the spot. It is the result of surrendering to vulnerability, allowing our bodies to be instruments, in service to the music.
I hope the Heavens heard our prayer.
I hope that you will post a comment so I can hear yours. Or visit the website.