Several months ago, I read an interview with an acclaimed opera singer/actress named Joyce DiDonato where she said, “I need to be in the moment, I need to be present, I need to be listening. And if I’m doing those things, then everything else falls into place. If I’m walking out thinking, ‘I hope they like me. How do I sound?’ that’s exactly what’s going to be read by the people in the theater.” She was referring to being in the moment while onstage, but what struck and impacted me was that her words could apply to any and all facets of creative life. And, since I think all human life has the potential to be creative, her statement could apply to all facets of human life.
To me, when people spend their time worrying about whether or not other people like them, they miss opportunities to perform while present. For example, a mother who worries about her kids liking her could hold back from a a tough situation (like talking about using drugs and/or alcohol) because she’s lost herself to the worry. Rather, as Ms. DiDonato said, the mother should be present as her mother and remain in the moment of the tough situation. That way, her kids wouldn’t be able to read her worry and use it against her.
For me, if I give a talk and separate myself from my audience through curiosity of their perception of me, then i can’t possible commit to the topic because I am too worried about their thoughts. I can actually sense that when i am speaking with the duality of simultaneous worry, i can hear myself losing sincerity. Really, even when I write something that hints at pandering to my reader. I know that the material will not be as strong as it would have been if I had the courage to commit to each and every word that pours onto the blank page. When I do find that courage, I become lost in the moment of the topic and gain the total appreciation for what I write.
Being present at every moment of a life can be tiring. The focus needed to always be where one is at and only where one is at requires a strength that few of us can muster, moment after moment. But, if we allow ourselves to commit to each moment of our lives, then our relationships, our work, our health will fall into place. Becoming mindful of the present tense of our lives allows us to complete and wholly engaged with all we do. Even responding to a text while with another person causes a separation that the other person can read as, “I am not important.” While most of us will never perform in an opera, we all have to perform in our daily lives. Thank you, Ms. DiDonato, for reminding me of the importance of being in the moments of my life without worrying about others’ perceptions. In that state of presence, I can truly be who I am and not pander to those around me. In other words, in being engaged and present within my life, I am free. Perhaps that presence is the key to any recovery….