I am a huge Linda Ronstadt fan. I love her music, but even more I really connect with her way of singing. Up until recently, she has expressed herself wholeheartedly through song, putting it all out there with depth and authenticity. I heard an interview with her a few weeks ago. She has Parkinsons disease now, and as a result, has had to give up making records and singing publicly. It is evident that the range and volume of her voice has diminished, as often happens with this disease, but when she talked about how this has impacted her, she was sad but amazingly accepting of the fact that she had lost something that had been really important to her, and her identity, for most of her life. She was grateful to have had the chance to put her music into the world for as long as she did.
How many of us self impose limits on how we express who we are and what we love? And why? I think it has to do with fear – afraid of being judged, made fun of, rejected.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I engaged in an activity that, in the past, I would have dreaded. I took a painting class! I even did this with 7 other family members! A narrative that I have had of myself for most of my life is that I am not creative or artistically inclined IN ANY WAY. I struggle to draw stick men to scale and once decorated a cake so terribly that even my best friend couldn’t help laughing hysterically. But for some reason, this time the experience of painting was different (not necessarily the quality of the end product though). I didn’t approach doing this with the typical dread associated with doing something that I have assessed myself at being bad at. I was focused instead on the beauty of the coming together of the eight of us, spanning three generations. Even more than that, at least this time, I seemed to have let go of the need to be ‘good’ at it. This was so freeing that I was bouyant during the entire two hour class and was even able to show my masterpiece to others afterward without apology. No one who saw it was suggesting that I submit it to some art competition but it was clear that they appreciated the obvious joy that painting it brought me.
Bring to mind a musician you have seen in concert. How was your experience of this different than simply listening to his or her music on the radio? When we are doing something we love, like singing, painting, teaching, etc., our whole self gets involved. We bring an energetic presence that positively impacts others, even if we can’t see it at that moment.
Don’t wait a minute longer to do what you love in ways that connect with who you are and what you care about. As Linda Ronstadt knows all too well, you just never know when the freedom to do just that will slip away from you.