So there I am at 17, living in a dance collective in rural Northern California when the piano player, John Timothy, brings in a 33″ vinyl record and says, “Listen to this!”
It’s Les McCann & Eddie Harris’s “Compared To What” – and I’ve never heard anything like it. For one thing, it’s long – not a 3-minute pop song. It’s nearly 10 minutes long and so full of REAL that I never forget the experience.
The question in the song also stays with me to this day, “Try to make it real, compared to what?”
That’s on my mind big-time right now because I’ve realized that, without an instrument in my hands, or a question to ask or answer, I struggle with simply being there – being real.
So I’m out to discover: what’s my own voice like, naked? No music. No instrument. Just my voice.
So what do I do? What I always do: I look for someone who can coach me. Someone who’s been through it, knows the challenges, and is willing to be achingly honest.
My friend Katie.
I tell Katie what I want to do and why, and she agrees to coach me. I’ll send her one video of up to 3 minutes each night. Each day I’ll find one thing I want to share – something I noticed that helped me look at what it means to be a human being in my life.
I videotape the clips, upload them secretly to YouTube, and then text them to Katie, and she gives me straight, honest feedback: “I got bored here, I loved that, what were you even saying there, this gave me goosebumps, do that one again, that’s too long,” etc.
Below are a some of the “Katie Videos” from last week. No script. No agenda. Just exploring this human adventure with this voice I’m discovering and finding out what I find out when I do.
Why I Need a Flirting Cornerman
We should all have a cornerman like boxers do, cheering us on to get back out there and reminding us what we’re supposed to be doing.
Unexpected Birthday Present
My friend Rachel is visiting for my birthday breakfast and she feels bad because she didn’t bring me a present, but it turns out she did.
In which … my new buddy Barbara finds out I want to date and don’t know how, she gives me advice for first steps and I try it out at the Boston Swing Social Dance.
Stories of True Love at the Kickstand Cafe
In which … I practice flirting at the Kickstand Cafe and discover there’s lots of love already bubbling out there.
The Birthday Rose and the Last Wish of the Evening
In which … I’ve almost given up on the Birthday Rose tradition this year when I discover the perfect partners … and then get too shy to share the whole truth with them.
Katie says her favorite videos are the ones where I go out and try to put something into practice that people told me to try, or that I came up with myself – and when it has to do with connecting with other people — and then I come back and report. So if there’s something you want me to try … share it below.
(Am I promising I’ll do it … nah. But I might!!)
Love your sharing Debra.
Yes, flirting is fun-loving!
Please keep doing it,
dancing the night away
I am inspired too!
Much love and happiness
and all that jazz…
Happy Birthday, Deborah, and many more. The world needs more of this.
Thanks for sharing, Deborah. This underlines what all your students know. You are in fact a Mensch…a REAL one, who is to be congratulated on making it this far and this well. ‘Compared to what?’, you ask. Compared to many, why? ’cause With or without the instrument or the questions, you got harp!!
LÁ BREITHE SONA!!! Happy Birthday from Ireland!! I loved your ‘Birthday Rose’ story – what a *gorgeous* way to celebrate your birthday, and what a lovely and lively soul you are, Deborah!
Deborah, there’s a café / bar in Prague called ‘Flirt’… how about going there for some more practice, plus some cross-cultural comparison??!