Thursday, December 9, 2010

You DON'T Know What You've Got till It's Gone

Okay, some of you had heard some of this already... I haven't always been a vocalist. I specifically joined band as a kid because I wanted to learn music and my parents told me I had a terrible voice. Fast forward to college - turns out parents don't know everything (shhh... don't tell my kids), and voice lessons launched a hot new pursuit, one that would turn out to be somewhat lucrative a times.

But this isn't a post about bad parenting. Through all the years that I studied and performed, I never once truly felt satisfied with my voice. There was always someone who could sing higher or some aria that eluded my skill level. There was always that brass ring, mocking and taunting. For the greater part of 25 years, I simply couldn't accept that I really could sing. And sing well. At times that pursuit of excellence drove me harder and helped me achieve more. Most of the time, though, it manifested into a fear of failure, keeping me from putting myself out there.

And now those years seem wasted.

A few years ago I began to experience some very real hormonal changes. Not in that wanna-rip-off-someone's-head way. Instead, my body took aim at my voice. The upper end of my range has dropped significantly, while the lower end has expanded. The texture or "color" of my voice has become somewhat unrecognizable to me. I was once a lyric coloratura soprano. That is no longer the case. For the first time in my life, I have to care about the how high a piece goes.

Those years seem wasted because I never realized that what I was able to do was special. To me it was always "not enough." Now that I no longer have it, I have learned to accept that I had a gift. A gift in the very real sense - I did not earn it, it was given to me. And it was taken away for some reason, perhaps because I did not have the right appreciation for it.

I'm in the throes of a grieving process, and when I work through it, I will have to learn how to make what I have left into something good. Somehow I will have to find beauty in a thing that was never beautiful to me before. If I manage to learn anything from this experience, I hope it is how to redefine myself, change the way I view my gifts. I hope that as my new vocal skills grow, my self-acceptance grows as well . I hope that, this time, when someone tells me I have touched them with my voice, I will actually hear them.

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