“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
This is where we separate the wheat from the chaff. The last three weeks’ ruminations on perspective, focus, preparation and receptiveness are just the beginning. You can embrace all of those but still not be in the game. This business of making a living in the arts is not for sissies. Your career – yes, your whole life – will shrink or expand in proportion to your courage. So man up.
“Courage is not the absence of fear,
but rather the judgment that something else
is more important than fear.”
(who was a hippie before hippies were cool)
Fear does not go away. Stage fright may always be with you. If someone tells you that you can eliminate it completely, be very suspicious.
But here’s the secret: Fear need not be the most important guest in the room. We’ve all heard stories about iconic artists who hurl before going onstage for their whole careers. I hope that’s not you (and, if it is, that you’ve explored whether or not you’d be happy making a living doing something that doesn’t quite freak you out as much), but if it is, this strategy is for you. Articulate what is more important than the fear and allow it to consume you.
If music and theatre and the amazing privilege of sharing the most important things about being alive are important enough to you, they can beat the fear into a dark corner, bloody and bowed. It may always taunt you, but you may grow strong enough to keep it at bay.
“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.”
Let’s go one step further and speculate that if you’re not a little afraid, then something is wrong. If your art is pleasing and safe, it may be but pleasant plagiarism. I’m not sure that’s why you started this whole thing in the beginning. If your art is revolution of the best sort, then good for you. That kind of art is strong enough to withstand a few butterflies.
“Please be aware that our performers tonight
are working on a tightrope at a great height,
and the least noise might disturb them,
and they would fall to their deaths.”
Jean Cocteau (Orpheus)
Be strong. :)