I screwed up in the concert Friday night.
I know the exact movement and measure where I came in two beats early, loud and clear, doubling the tenors an octave higher, when the sopranos weren’t supposed to come in at all yet. A mistake I had made so repeatedly in rehearsal that I had marked a huge dark circle around the rest – the rest that I nevertheless failed to observe, during the concert. Which will ruin the recording, no doubt.
Fortunately, I have another chance to get it right, tonight.
But that doesn’t make me feel any better.
I feel like I’m in over my head. There are voices in this choir that are as big as the ocean. I have sung in several really, really good choirs in my time, but I’ve never heard anything like this. I’m out of shape, out of practice, out of my league.
I’m wondering why they let me in.
And I keep “watering the weed,” going over and over my stupid mistake, magnifying its importance.
I have long been accused of perfectionist tendencies. I can put a lot of energy into beating myself up over the innumerable mistakes I have made, which continue to multiply, daily. Apparently, getting older doesn’t necessarily equate with getting wiser.
What a waste of energy.
Because perfectionism is really just badly disguised arrogance.
How could I be so arrogant as to think that anyone in the audience even noticed in that very live, echo-y chapel?
And who the hell do I think I am, that I could ever get anything perfect, anyway?
I’ve lived enough life now to realize that making mistakes is part of the deal. My improvisation teachers said that mistakes are discoveries. Go with ’em and see where they take you.
Perfectionism is the opposite of humility, and I’m trying to learn to be a more humble, accepting person – one who listens more than she talks.
(Stop laughing, you guys, I really am trying).
And one who doesn’t take herself so seriously, doesn’t always think she’s the center of everything, or anything, for that matter. Trying to focus on others and not be such a little-miss-know-it-all-smartypants-achiever.
Remember that sketch that Chris Farley used to do, on SNL? The interview show, where he’d say something or ask a question and then start slapping himself in the head, “Oh, D’oh! How stupid! I’m such an idiot!”
He did that not out of arrogance, thinking that he could have been perfect, but out of humility and insecurity, feeling that he couldn’t possibly be good enough, even though he was spectacularly, uniquely talented.
And I thought I was hard on myself.
So, I fell off the proverbial horse. Get back on and give it another go, Annie. “I’ll do better next time,” as my courageous, resilient, magnificent, magical daughter says, determined to show me she can muster a positive attitude after a setback.
I’ll do better next time, not for myself, but out of respect for the other members of the chorus.
Some of whom, it turns out, live with significant health and physical challenges, and sing joyfully, professionally and well, despite them.
Where do I get off making mountains out of my mistakes when these people carry on, with their quiet heroism, just being who they are and doing what they do, and doing it well?
So tonight I’ll watch more closely and concentrate more on counting than on the sound of my own voice. Although it is easy to space out a bit, lost in the majesty and consolation of Mendelssohn, I’ll keep my guard up and try to remember that it’s a gift just to have the chance to be a small part of it, and to follow the lead of voices far more magnificent, and musicianship far more honed than mine are at present. Working on it.
Tonight I’ll try to be OK with just being OK.
Time to go put on the concert black, and stow the ego. I’ll keep you posted.
Until then, I remain,
Your striving, stumbling, struggling, but still singing,