Sunday, September 09, 2007

hitting high C

Excited and happy, but with a strong undercurrent of fear. The moment I actually hit the note, I almost lose consciousness. A physical, animal sensation seizes me. Then I regain control.

The great, late Luciano Pavarotti describing the feeling he got when he hit a high C, something he did better than any other tenor, as quoted in today's New York Times.

For a long time now my mantra has been travel in the direction of your fear. It's never let me down, but it's sometimes taken a good amount of terror to get my attention. C.S. Lewis said something once about pain being God's way of getting your attention -- I think of fear like that. A certain kind of fear.

Not the "best to avoid this burning building because you'll probably get immolated if you go in there" kind of fear -- it has a different quality altogether, like a dark basement, or a deserted road at night, when the moon has just tucked behind a cloud. It doesn't signal aversion like a burning house does, but it sure as hell doesn't sound a welcome either. It just says: Come on. I dare ya.

Sometimes it apes T.S. Eliot: Do not ask what is it / Let us go and make our visit.

It doesn't start smiling until after you've owned the challenge and passed on through. And once you're on the other side? It offers up a beer or a strong cup of coffee -- because then you're friends. Then you're pals.

And you have just enough time to hang out and rest up a bit before the next big fear materializes.


I, Rodius said...

There are moments in my life when I wish I had looked at fear in this vein. Public speaking terrifies me. I still shudder to think how I flat-out refused to do an oral presentation project in seventh grade English rather than speak before the class. I get cold sweats thinking of my oral presentations on Malcolm X and Tongues Untied in college. Yick.

anniemcq said...

D., you're one of the bravest people I know. You are using your fear to motivate you, which is one of the hardest things in the world to do.

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