Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Independence of Solitude

There is a really great quote that I like from Self Reliance. I read it years ago, and I've been contemplating it ever since. It goes like this. "It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinions; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." So what does all that nonsense mean? It means its easy to be yourself when you're by yourself. But its hard to be yourself when the world is watching. Emerson said it. I agree. It sounds funny though, when you think about it. Its hard to be yourself. How can that be? It takes practice to be yourself?. At least for me, it does. See, I'm a people person. I like having people near by. I like having someone to talk to. I like feeling connected. The problem with that is that I also like seeing people smile. Making people happy. That was great when I was on stage. The desire and ability to figure out what people want and give it to them is a knack that not everyone has. But when you get off stage, you're supposed to turn it off. After a great performance, you get to walk back stage and unwind. You get to stop performing. That's the idea. But in life, the idea is to NEVER be performing. Even when you're "on", you're supposed to just be yourself. You're supposed to be just as comfortable with being yourself ON STAGE as you are back stage. That's what I've been working on.

But how do you do it? How do you have the nerve to go on stage, without the shiny suit, and play originals all night instead of covers? After all, if you're playing the songs they like, you know they at least understand what you're doing. Right?

So that's what I've been contemplating lately. How do I keep, as Ralph would put it, the independence of solitude? I wish I knew. I mean, I'd like to think that as the years go by, less and less of me is a performance. But old habits die hard. There's still that desire to see someone smile at me. The performer in me comes out now and then. It probably does in everyone. The trick is to eventually learn to be performing as little as possible. Like I said, I'm working on it.

One of my favorite lines to a song says, "Ah but when I sing, I can hear the truth auditioning." Well, I'm singin'. I hope they like it.

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