Hello everybody! I’m sorry it has been so long since I wrote last-it has been a very busy month and a half. For this post I have a lot of different things that I want to talk about, and so I hope you all will humor me as I open the floodgates and let the words spill out for the first time in weeks. I’ll see you on the other side…
2017 was a year of incredible change. I began the year with a mind full of questions, an endless to-do list, and thick clouds obstructing my future gaze. “What comes next,” my friends and family asked me ad nauseum. “Perform my Masters recital, graduate, move to New York, and be a musician,” I replied nervously. It was a year of making plans and then having to change them last minute due to unforeseen circumstances or new opportunities. This is a tale of new beginnings.
My original plan to move to New York did not work out in the time frame I had anticipated, which caused me to move back home to Florida for a couple months-just in time for Hurricane Irma. I have nothing against moving back home after school or people that choose to do that, but I knew even before graduating that this was not a path that would lead me where I wanted to be in my life or my career. So, for me to have to take this pivot step felt like a failure in many ways and my mind ran as wild as the hurricane outside: either my plan to move was not well thought out or it was some sign that I was not meant to move to New York (or some other variation of these thoughts). With every passing day, the thought of starting over somewhere else became more and more difficult to fathom as the stakes became higher, and with that New York seemed to fade away from feasibility.
Then something changed-opportunities started to pop up. One conversation with an old friend opened the possibility of subletting his apartment in Harlem. While mulling this over, another opportunity emerged that led to my audition for the 2nd National Tour of Hamilton on violin. Within weeks, I went from considering staying at home in Orlando for a year to having a place in New York with a lead on a possible job. Too good to be true? It definitely felt that way; however, I knew I would never get another shot like this. I will say though-as intense as the audition process was, it was no match for waiting for that callback (detailed in my post “Wait for It”).
In Seth Godin’s blog this past week, he had a post entitled “Beginning is Underrated” in which he wrote about the beauty of diving headfirst into something new and unknown-focusing on endless possibility instead of obsessing over the impossibility of preparing adequately. For many of us, including me, this approach does not come naturally-it is hard to be filled with wonder when you’re caught in a web of questions. With age comes an increased awareness of the complexity of everything, and so it follows that over-thinkers like me will become more and more hesitant to start something new as we grow older since we recognize more and more how many pieces need to fit together just right in order for success to come. It is a commonly held belief that learning a new language, a musical instrument, or a sport is much, much harder once you’re an adult; however, I believe the pattern of overthinking that I described earlier (something we develop as adults) is largely to blame for giving children the upper hand in learning a new skill.
Approaching something new with a childlike frame of mind is very similar to the teaching philosophy in the book The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey. In this book, Gallwey argues that the best way to learn is to observe others and objectively experiment without falling into the trap of judgment and negative self-talk, a pattern of behavior that has been especially problematic for me. Even in practice I often fear making mistakes to the point that tension creeps into my playing and my mind is consumed by negativity instead of creativity. Recognizing this voice as simply a product of the adult mind is key to unlocking the power to temper its influence. The mind is like an apartment building in the City, and your conscience is merely a single tenant: while you may not have so much control over who moves into the building as it gets older, you can choose which guests to let in to your personal space.
Back to the story-through a carefully orchestrated series of events that I could not have foreseen or possibly put into place (read: Divine intervention), I got the job as a touring violinist with Hamilton for their 2nd National Tour! Thus began the eye of the hurricane: a period of relative quiet from November until late January in which I learned the music, enjoyed the holidays with my family and friends, and mentally prepared for the rest of the storm to come. “In the eye of a hurricane there is quiet for just a moment-a yellow sky.”
In the weeks leading up to departing for Seattle for the tour, so many questions filled my mind: What would come next? How would rehearsals be? Did I prepare enough? Am I ready for this big leap? Seth Godin’s post that I referenced above came at the perfect time-after doing all of the preparation, I realize that I got this opportunity largely by diving in head-first and not letting myself be consumed by doubt, and this is exactly the frame of mind I need in order to be successful in what will come next. And boy, what a joy it is to be here at the beginning of something amazing surrounded by people who are so excited, prepared, and driven to bring artistry to every aspect of this incredible show. I cannot imagine ever calling this “work,” for it is far too inspiring, fulfilling, and fun to ever be given such a title.
So, in a couple month’s time I go from hoping to move to New York to starting the Hamilton Tour in Seattle-a new beginning by any measure. Here’s to starting anew, throwing caution to the wind, and giving it my all without fear of failure…I encourage you to come along for the ride, to “Go West.”