Mission: Accomplished

You know in the movie Mission: Impossible when Tom Cruise comes into the secure room through the ceiling, suspended only by the rope/wire that is being held by his partner in crime and barely makes it out in time with the goods in his hand??

Yeah – my life is not that.

But my life holds different types of missions.  All of our lives do.  It’s what makes living so exciting…so thrilling…so fulfilling…so [at times] hard and daunting…so challenging.  There are most definitely times that we desire an easy, relaxing day with nothing going on – a chance for us to refresh.  But then there are times where a challenge is necessary…and sought after.  Something to give us that jolt of energy and the awareness that what stands before us is conquerable after we put in the hard work.  It makes my heart beat faster just typing and thinking about it.  It makes me feel alive!

Now – I get that people differ.  I get that what is challenging and exciting to someone may be dull and boring to someone else.  Or what someone sees as fulfilling may be the absolute weirdest thing to another.  It’s cool.  You do your thing – I’ll do mine.  But I’m going to share mine, soo…..

If you haven’t picked up by either knowing me or by reading this blog, music is my strongest passion.  That, and Saved By The Bell, which is hands down the absolute best show that has ever been on television.  But I’ll discuss the latter in another post.  Anyway, back to music.

There’s just something about music that I find exhilarating.  The notes – the words – the harmonies – the way everything blends together and makes something so pure and beautiful in sound is absolutely amazing to me.  I believe you can experience any number of emotions just by listening to music.  Music is vital in my life.  It’s what can lift my mood or sharpen my focus…it makes me think…it provides comfort when needed…and it enables me to use a gift in a way I find pleasing.  I’ve always felt that way about music – and this passion grows stronger and stronger the older I get.

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  – Victor Hugo

I also like the challenge that music presents.  The thrill of learning a new song or pushing yourself to do better vocally [or instrumentally if you’re so talented] is a challenge met with such a feeling of accomplishment.  It is exciting to see the amount of time, effort, and hard work put into strengthening your talent rewarded – and it provides a feeling one tends to never forget.  Such is the case for my most recent musical challenge by performing in the Charleston Light Opera Guild’s production of The Wedding Singer.

Performing is fun…performing is an amazing experience…but performing can sometimes be terrifying.  I was cast in the lead role – Robbie Hart – for this production.  I had overwhelming feelings of excitement, thankfulness…and fear.  This was my first leading role.  This was my first leading role beside such accomplished actors and actresses.  This was my first leading role beside such accomplished actors and actresses for such a well-known and reliable theater company.  To say this challenge seemed a little more than I could handle is an understatement.

But – with any challenge – you take a deep breath…you prepare yourself as best you know how through practice and more practice…you rely on the support of those around you…and then you just do it.  [Thanks, Nike]  No questions asked.  You step up and deliver.  You do what you have done a million and four times in rehearsal [this time in front of large crowds of people].  You stay focused.

I’ve always had a problem with being too hard on myself – especially when it comes to my passion for music.  I want to be perfect.  I want to sing every note exactly right – say every word correctly without fail.  In a way, it’s good to push yourself and strive for that standard.  But – on the other hand – it adds an amount of pressure that is always present.  There’s no escape from it.  And [for me] that’s what makes this fear so unavoidable.  It’s not so much a fear of not succeeding – but more so a fear of not being flawless.

That – my friends – is not a pleasant problem because it often ends with results less than desired.  I tend to judge myself on a very narrow margin.  If I mess up a note here or there, I’m crushed, even though the rest of the piece went off without a hitch and people loved it.  That one note – that one moment where I messed up – is what I will remember.

Maybe I’m just a little crazy and think a lot more of myself than I actually should – seriously, it could be – but I just know that I love music so much…and find that I’m so peaceful and content when music is in my life…that to not be my best at those moments is not doing my passion justice.

Enter life lesson.

Being cast in The Wedding Singer proved more beneficial for me than originally thought.  Sure, I was honored beyond belief to be cast in the leading role.  I was so excited to work with this cast of people whom I have seen in numerous productions.  I was ready to be on stage and just enjoy the time I had throughout this entire process.  I was anxious for friends and family to get to come see the show and experience something I love with me.  It was a whole slew of thoughts and emotions.  But what I didn’t realize was how this show would shape my outlook on this passion I’ve held for so many years – in a positive way.

I can’t tell you how many times I said different lines in one part of the show…other than what was written.

Or there was a time I basically mumbled through a line in a song because I totally forgot what that line was.

Or when I had to make up a rhyme on the spot in a certain song because I [again] got lost with the words and needed something to say.

Or how about when I came on stage for one entrance with my dress shirt on backwards, which I didn’t notice until I realized the Velcro was on the wrong side.

Stuff like this happens all of the time in musical theater.  Sure, the cast realizes it the minute it happens because you basically know everyone’s parts due to the amount of times you’ve rehearsed.  But the audience?

This is the first time [or sixth if you’re such a devoted somebody] they are seeing it.  They have so much to take in during this performance that a flub here or there from you is not crushing by any means.  It’s actually pretty liberating to realize – not that you should go out on stage and be totally fine with forgetting a whole song or just half-assing everything you do…but you know what I mean.

For me, these flubs – just a few years ago [well, hell – just a few months ago] – would have been devastating.  I would have felt like I ruined the entire show for everyone…that, when people walked out of the auditorium, they were going to pinpoint the exact moment that I didn’t get that top button buttoned on my tight leather pants [you’re welcome] or when I almost tripped someone during the opening scene.  But not anymore.

Those flubs made me realize something more.  They made me realize that challenges pop up all the time – on or off stage.  It’s how we process, deal with, and recover from those challenges that truly do make us stronger.  They made me realize how being able to laugh at your own mistakes and take them in stride enables you to learn from them faster.  They made me realize that the emotional feeling I get whenever I take my bow is not because of how much the audience may be applauding…but because of what I’ve been challenged with during that show…and what I, along with the rest of the cast and crew, have accomplished.

It provides a great feeling of pride to walk away from such an experience knowing that I gave everything I could during that time.  It wasn’t perfect – it wasn’t flawless – but it accomplished the mission in front of me…and did so in a way that I found acceptable.

I honestly can’t begin to express how much more this experience helped shape me for the better…but I know that I’m definitely ready for the next challenge that life presents. [Not that I’m asking for it…I mean, it can take its time…but I’m just saying that I’m here…whenever…no rush at all…]

…Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure…

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