I remember my life as a performer/programmer in NJ. I spent most of my nights singing dancing and acting while I spent the day meticulously wading through programming code.
I remember, before a show, I’d usually find myself in a hectic, noisy dressing room with actors who were either singing to themselves, reciting lines to themselves, or, worse yet, complaining to themselves.
I remember sneaking out of this room and venturing out to the only quiet place in the entire theater: the stage itself. I was so amazed at how a place that could hold such drama, applause, music, and laughter could be so noiseless right before showtime.
In this place, I made it a ritual to visualize my role in the show and to virtually walk through all of my scenes. I’d take time to practice my lines and visualize myself as the character. I’d practice standing in my spots on stage while pausing every now and then to gaze at the empty house. I would imagine the seats full of nameless faces staring at me. I’d feel a slight twinge of fear quickly followed by a sublime calmness brought on by my understanding of the need to focus.
Doing this helped me become a better performer. However, it did not always relieve my anxiety and fear. For example, if I started to panic for whatever reason, my performance would go downhill fast. Once my focus was gone, my mind became a blank slate. Most people call it as stage fright.
To prevent “stage fright” in actual real life situations, I used to prepare in quite the same way. I would visualize the people, the place, the talk and the activity and think about all the different scenarios I’d encounter. I would then give myself a short list of actions and recitations thereby usually guaranteeing a favorable or, at worst, disappointing outcome.
Then something in me changed.
Three years ago, I found out (much to my dismay) that visualization is not the cure-all to life’s problems. Even worse it was preventing me from growing as a person. I sheltered myself from feeling the full breadth of emotional sensations and only knew a sliver of the emotional spectrum.
Known to me: Favorable through Disappointing.
Unknown to me: Ecstatic through Devastating.
Three years ago, I took the first excruciating steps to exposing my mind to this new reality of mine.
How did I do this? I resolved to use visualization as a tool (to perfect action) and not as an instigator (to initiate or force action). It meant that I had to go into new situations only prepared with my wisdom, my principles, and my passions.
I’ll actually write more about this in another post.
What did I learn? More than I could have imagined. I’m learning how to motivate, teach, anticipate, sympathize, argue, and convince other people. More importantly I keep learning more and more about how to let go of my constant fear of failure.
Again.....I’ll talk about this in another post.
It’s been a year since I’ve performed on stage and I don’t really miss it. Treating life as a grand experience, sincerely interacting with others, and taking emotional risks have been just as, if not more, rewarding then the sound of applause.