I believe that courage is the first of all the virtues. It doesn’t matter what other values you hold if you don’t have the courage to follow through with them. Courage must come first.
I haven’t always been very courageous. I suppose that’s why my reality is so far away from my ideal. I didn’t have the glue that holds everything together. Perhaps I found that glue yesterday, though, because I took a leap and took a risk for something that was incredibly important to me.
It was my first session back in training for opera.
I was scared out of my mind.
Once upon a time I had a teacher that made me feel like I could be something. After working with her for a few years I left for college and had teachers who clearly didn’t think I was good enough. In some people opposition creates a fight response. They want to prove them all wrong, but I didn’t have enough faith in myself to think that I could prove them wrong. I thought, until very recently, that pretty much everyone else in the world understood everything better than me. People just knew things I didn’t. So, my response was flight.
After leaving college, getting run over, and generally isolating myself from the world; I didn’t think that a voice career was going to happen. I didn’t really think that much in life was going to happen for me. A few years, a blog, and a whole lot of self esteem later; I finally made myself go back.
Waking up yesterday morning, I fought to get out of bed. I wondered if I could really do it or if I was destined to fail. Then I had the Can Vs Will conversation, got out of bed, and kept on with daily life.
You’d think that wasn’t terribly significant, but in days of ole I used to “accidentally” oversleep and ditch out on other obligations because my anxiety about the thing itself would become so strong and intense. Everything else in life would cease as well because I couldn’t handle it.
Going to work itself was an achievement.
So, off I went. I didn’t get myself out of bed on time to shower or even brush my hair (we’ve talked about how long that takes)… I didn’t say I’d reached perfection, but on I went with a plan to make sure I would have everything I needed and get to that lesson on time.
At lunch I went home and grabbed my checkbook and sheet music. Just before leaving work I printed out my bus schedule that I had looked up a week before. I didn’t even eat cheese that afternoon for fear of coating my throat.
I was surprisingly calm.
After work, just before I left, the “oh shit” feelings started to kick in.
I walked to the bus as quickly as I could, fearing that if I slowed down I might think through what I was doing and chicken out. I started to think about courage instead. Standing in the bus tunnel, I realized that this was going to start a whole new chapter. It would put me back on the track I had once thought was my life path.
I started to shake a little bit as anxiety swelled within me. I could still go home. I could cancel and start next week. I could run away. But, no, I stood there and hummed Che Faro Senza Euridice, trying not to think about the fact that I was about to sing that very song for someone soon.
This was what I really wanted. Why does it have to feel like such a battle? Why do the things that really matter scare me so much more?
As the bus pulled up I held my breath. I knew that once I stepped on the bus I’d follow through. I walked toward it clutching my sheet music to my chest. I only paused for a moment before stepping on.
An hour later, as we were doing vocal exercises that sound like they ought to be coming from a psych ward, I felt at home. For the first time in a few years I felt fulfilled in that deeper place.
After the lesson I was practically floating on air. I got more out of one hour with this teacher than I did the entire two years I did at school. Not only that, but she still had a letter from my previous teacher that she wrote about all of her students. She wrote about me “I believe in her and her talent.”
I think I do too.