I’m feeling some stage fright.
Well sort of. It doesn’t seem to be as petrifying as I remember the stone cold grip on my lungs was when I stood in the wings waiting for my cue. But I’m still nervous.
I know it’s because I’m caught up thinking about how I’m going to impress people who have deeply impressed me. And I’m likewise caught up in being convinced that I’ll never impress them, only disappoint them. I won’t disappoint myself, I already know I’m a loser.
I’ll just irritate myself and that’ll set off despair at myself and then I’ll lie around wondering what point there is in getting up and attempting anything.
Do I get ahead of myself? Yeah, of course, that’s overthinking things in a nutshell. Not only am I already thinking ahead, past my inevitable failure, but I’m skipping over the part where I am present to the work that I am doing while I’m doing it.
Performing has little do with thinking. I’ve already written about that. Thinking helps set things up but does not do the performing. My thinking muscle is very strong. I’ve worked it out every single day since I was wee thing. But my performing muscle is flabby. Sometimes I pay careful, persistent attention to it, sometimes I ignore it. Every day problems come up that need attention from the thinking muscle and they eclipse the opportunity to workout the performing muscle. And then along comes a problem, or really the chance to show off, that only the performing muscle can handle.
But sort of like instinctively lifting with your back instead of your legs (and subsequently hurting yourself), the thinking muscle wants to jump in and plan out All the Things, including failing at what it is no good at.
Performance is play. It’s in the body and the soul. Thought keeps it all together, so I don’t just flop around and scream incoherently, but the impact of performance is created by physical effort and inspiration. There is no anticipation there, no planning ahead, just doing. Just right now.
And it’s frightening. I’m used to relying on thought to help me through everything. Performing feels like heading out on a tightrope – if I start to tip over how will I keep from falling?? But again, that’s only a concern because thought won’t help. Performing will. It sounds weird to say performing saves performing, but… well, what else is there? If I stay centered in what I’m doing – performing – I won’t lose my balance.
Shhh, thought. I’m doing something.