A First Performance

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached ~Franz Kafka

They say it's important to do things that scare us. I remind myself of that as I watch my body move across the floor towards her, my partner. Dozens of eyes watching me, the air thick with anticipation, I feel myself walking into a complete unknown. Suddenly I feel like I don't know what to do next, but I manage to take the embrace. The first chords of the Canaro, there they are, I know this, I know this, I know this.... I remind myself over and over... far away there is an echo "you have done this thousands of times, you can do this." But it is just an echo and it is obliterated as the whole of my body, every cell and fiber, begin to quake. It is a loud, violent trembling that cannot be stopped. The sound of it reverberating through my bones, my muscles struggling to retain the body's verticality. It is like an earthquake, it is like the all consuming power of water released from a dam, it is like really bad turbulence on a plane. 

As my body follows the lead of my partner, I struggle to feel my feet, they are so far away. In fact, my whole body feels blown up, pieces randomly suspended in space. I feel myself stumble, but I can't do anything about it, I am not really in control. The vocalist releases the melody and I take the lead, intentionally slowing the transition, searching for the ground under my feet, searching for the boundaries of my body, of the embrace. "Walk...." A Gandalf-like voice echoes through my head. My body begins to move, my partner magically follows. Slowly things begin to come into focus and as they do, I come face to face with the thing that I am afraid of. The primal, archetypal, unexplainable, irrational fear of being exposed as a fraud. This is a familiar feeling, it has shown up at every piano recital, art exhibition, lecture, and any other event where I chose to really express something. That fear that I am exposing the fact that I actually have absolutely no idea what I am doing. It feels futile to try to prove anything, useless to try to show that my skill amounts to anything significant, anything worthwhile. 


I read somewhere a parable about a child who faces a monster. The monster shows all of his weapons, demonstrates how powerful it is. In response the child requests that the monster show him how he can be beaten. And so the boy conquers the monster. This was used as as a metaphor for facing our fears. The fear reveals the answer, but first one has to really face it...

And so in that moment, that moment when I face the possibility of the worst being possible, I suddenly arrive at another somewhat familiar place, a point of no return... a brief suspension, a slight opening up, a sudden cracking of the eggshell...  "so what? So what if it is true? So what if I don't know anything? So what if I make a fool of myself? What then?" In that moment the fear is nothing but a veil... In that moment I wake up. Suddenly, I feel the wave of the singer's voice carve through my body, I feel the strength of my muscles wrapping around my bones around her, around the space around us, around, around.... the whole world bursting out from some infinite void between us, endless possibilities... "Ah! This is it!" The thought echoes as I feel the music take charge of my body... everything snapping into focus.... and for a minute I am really dancing, traveling through the epic landscape of the Biagi, fused with the singer's voice...

I am being drawn through space, I am a tip of a pen, some powerful force guiding the gesture of the mark. The song draws to its dramatic end and there is a moment of silence before I hear the applause. I hug my partner, hardly believing that I am still there, that the force of that experience left me in one piece. But here I am, walking off the dance floor, being hugged by friends, congratulated. I am the same and I am thoroughly altered.