You are a catalyst for belonging.
When you step onto a stage – you make a place for each person in the audience to belong there.
And because all the world is a stage, no matter what you’re doing, you can step onto it.
You represent your audience on that stage. Their humanity. Their frailty. Their power. Their imperfection. Their vulnerability. Their exquisite beauty.
You are an advocate for them. For their right to the deepest of human experience. Their right to laughter. Their right to dreaming. Their right to sadness, pain, longing, ecstasy.
When you step on that stage. When you embrace a position that others seem not to have … in a moment they seem not to have it – whether you’re on stage playing music, serving coffee as a barrista, making promises as a political candidate – you become a catalyst for their belonging.
Unless … you become a catalyst for their exclusion.
If you are leading you will create belonging.
If not, you will only create the sense of separation.
So what will you do to create belonging?If you are leading you will create belonging. Click To Tweet
Sometimes my childhood imaginary friend sits me down and lectures me. (Yes, we’re still friends.) What you just read above is what I heard last night.
What do your imaginary friends lecture you about these days? Please tell me in the comments.
You lost me at “serving them coffee.” But yes, you do instill confidence that we can do what you do both on and off stage. And it seems effortless which is charmingly sincere. I think your ability to lead us to lead may be your greatest talent. Everybody, at least secretly, wants to get on a stage and play the harp like you do. But you also comfort people to the effect that they want to be like you.
My imaginary friend retired to Ganymede when Stephen the Harp moved into the house. His pension was well earned after fifty years of service. We still email each other when Earth and Jupiter are closely aligned and the asteroids are not too thick.
Thanks Eric — I just made a little edit that I hope clarified that. There are so many moments of artistry and human leadership, many forms of stepping on the stage, tiny heartbreaking performances. I once saw a window-washer whose virtuosity with the squeegy took my breath away and profoundly elevated the concept of clarity for me. Each of those moments has the opportunity to create belonging or exclusion, to remind us of the exquisite experience of being human … or to reinforce the sense of disconnect. Artistry is artistry, no matter the medium – and no matter the medium, it can lead us to belonging or exclusion. That’s what I meant by ‘serving coffee’ — ahhh if only I had that squeegey now …
Leading is also having an infectious joi de vie that melts away the internal naysaying reflex. Thanks for being such a vibrant light Deborah!
Thank you Jeannette. You’re so right!!! Joy itself opens doors in the soul. I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you!!!
When a singer can fully draw me into an emotional moment, that is artistry at its best. Few have done it as well as Bonnie Raitt, Cathy Richardson and Adelle. Each of these artists were able to make the hair on my arm stand up by expressing an emotion that mirrored my own experience. Bring a tear to my eyes, buckle my knees, and be there to catch me. Anyone can sing a song; greatness is when one breaks down your firewall and hacks into your soul. Just be sure to give something to hold onto in a supportive way, because if you break it, you own it.
I love this: “greatness is when one breaks down your firewall and hacks into your soul.” Thank you, Jeffrey. I also love what you said: “if you break it, you own it” … but maybe in a different way. My mentor, Tony Montanaro, used to say “you have to become a victim of your own work.” I’ve been chewing on that for years and I think you just gave me a huge clue: maybe you have to break your own heart to own it.
When I read this, I was struck by the wider implications of this message than the obvious musical/performance stage. It also can be interpreted as a way of being present in the moment, a zen way of being. Apply this message to the present political arena and the real essence of each candidate is crystal clear. Thank you for sharing this wonderful message. Thank you for sharing your wonderful approach for making music, especially on the harp. I just bought a harp and I am starting lessons next week. You inspire me.
Thank you, SueEllen! My assistant said the same thing about the political arena – but you’re right – thinking about this consciously is a kind of filter to clarify the essence of a political message or intent.
How great you’ve bought a harp and started lessons – this will be an amazing adventure – not just musical but the physical experience of something so responsive as a harp to your hands can change the way you experience everything.
Ha! That just made me remember that just this morning I discovered that my hands can feel the experience of crunch – something my teeth are already crazy about. It’s funny how parts of our body can come awake – or have new revelations – at any time and show us a new way to enjoy the world. I think you will discover this happening for you as your fingers and the strings begin to know each other.
I break a virtual bottle of champagne over the ship of your new journey!
I just read this, after spending the morning editing my blog post about playing at my mother’s nursing home. I have played there many times, and this time was different. Just a few people listened to my impromptu music-making, but the immediacy, the
unifying nature of playing; their need and my need had the elusive elements you write of.
And I get the coffee; no matter where or what the interface with others is, the potential/opportunity is there.
Well expressed, and well illustrated.
So funny that you ask what my imaginary friend is telling me! It was only a couple of hours ago that I wrote down some quotes.
As musicians we should only be perfectionists in one strive: to reach out to and contact others with our music. I would rather hear an imperfect performance that is appealing to me than a perfect one that doesn’t ring a bell. However, striving for genuine contact will eventually help us achieve perfect pitch.