Imperfecting Life

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At the Wright family dinner each night, everyone always seemed to have a story to tell. Something happened at school or work, and perhaps a new theory on the universe had recently hatched. Compliments of my father, politics, science, technology and current events graced our table regularly, and I have always admired him as a true, Jeopardy-excelling, information sponge.

His tireless love of learning continues, whether he studies a new way to enhance his MRI images at work, reads a science journal, or checks in to see how other sailors live aboard their boats. When I called my family the other day, my mother said, “Your father’s scuba diving in the living room.” Not literally. Excitedly he re-lived his last scuba certification class, as he exclaimed, “I got a hundred.” Perfect.

In my own efforts to ride the learning curve, I on the other hand usually need to abandon my instinctive desire for perfection, my need to “ace the test.” As a singer and actor, I’ve recently witnessed the power and importance of living and performing in the moment, as a real and flawed person. Isn’t Julia Roberts perfect? No. In fact, her breakthrough role came in Pretty Woman, where her character fantastically broke just about every rule imaginable in a quirky and unapologetically real personality.

My ego would much rather I strive for perfection at every turn, as a safer, more self-protective option. When I cantor at St. Jean Baptiste, trying not to make mistakes leads to one of two problems: errors from my lack of presence in the moment, or fake and stale worship. This weekend, after allowing myself to relax and sing an honest Lord’s Prayer, a perishoner approached me to say how he’d never understood it before hearing my delivery of the prayer. He also told me I sounded like Julia Roberts, and while I’m not quite certain her notoriety comes from singing, I took it as a high and beautifully human compliment.

This week, I’ve decided to use the excuse of the Chinese New Year to further my resolution already set earlier this month: to act with more kindness to myself. Letting go of perfectionism fits perfectly into that plan; although, it seems I may have to work hard to take that word out of my lexicon. As I sing with Opera Collective tonight in the Union Square subway station, I plan to “play with imperfection” (Dallas Travers) and have a grand time just being me. Wish me luck this year of the dragon.

Good Things Come… ~170

Waiting

Yesterday began with another incredibly inspiring voice lesson with W. Stephen Smith and ended with subway singing with Carla Wesby and Robert Arthur Hughes of Opera Collective and some fantastic time spent, during and afterwards, with marvelous people. This morning, I had a one-on-one voice-over introduction lesson via Skype with Voices for All, as part of a deal I purchased through a deal-a-day website specifically designed for the entertainment industry called Holdon Log. All this, plus a full weekend and a packed upcoming Social Media Week signal a return for me to the very best of committed, happy living.

Although I continue to write about the Tableau Vivant, I take a brief pause in this content until at least Monday. Photographer Sarah Small has asked me to draft a portion of my perspective on the project for potential publication. Potentially good news for me, I obviously feel the need to focus on that direction for a few days before returning to write more here. Not believing in teasing my readers, I do promise to answer the long-awaited question of “what it all means” shortly. For now, I leave you with the top six things I’ve very happily learned in the past twenty-four hours (too good to narrow down to five). Until next time, enjoy a weekend worth living.

  • Singing truly parallels life. Living and singing in the moment, willingly exposed and without hesitation or apology, makes both more compelling, unique, and beautiful – to both singer and observer.
  • Performing underground with a group like Opera Collective can really help loosen up one’s acting in opera, jog one’s memory of older or newer repertoire, and provide a little extra cash. Don’t expect anonymity; five friends happened to stop by our location by the Times Square shuttle in less than three hours. Do listen to the accompaniment beforehand. If not, fully expect at least three of those friends to walk by during the absolute worst possible mistake of the day. Oh yeah.
  • Although I apparently do not have a voice well-suited for motherly voice-over acting, I look forward to hearing what type of roles Leah Frederick of Voices for All does think would suit me in her upcoming coaching evaluation.
  • When whisking Chukar Cherries Black Cherry Cocoa Mix, as per the instructions on the tin, one should expect a delicious and sweet-smelling mess. Some solid Andrew Bird, fresh juice, a bowl of cereal, and this fantastic hot chocolate make an excellent start to the day.
  • It took me a few decades, but I have begun to understand that patience really is a virtue, and good things really do come to those who wait. Not just clichés.
  • Although life best begins afresh when one decides to live regardless of the weather, the sound of birds chirping outside on a gray not-yet-spring morning never hurts.