Sunday, March 8, 2009

How the Voice Heals

My first voice teacher, the renowned Kammersängerin Hilde Zadek, used to refer to 'das Es' or 'the It'  all the time in my lessons.  In the way that we can intuit what a person might be saying in a language we have not yet learned, I knew what she meant.  I knew what she meant in the same way I knew what the wind was saying to me in the forested valley beside the house where I grew up.  It was a language I knew but had somehow forgotten: a vocabulary you cannot buy a dictionary for.  The words come only from being around people who have remembered how to speak it.

As those who know me most intimately are already aware, I have been on a journey of rediscovery, of healing.  On this point on my path as a singer I find myself asking:

When something in us is deemed 'broken', who or what is It that 'fixes' us?  If our voices, our hearts, our legs, our arms...our souls are broken, are we the ones who fix them? Or are our Voices, our Hearts, our Dancing Legs, our Embracing Arms and our Complete Souls the ones that fix us?

'Das Es' was the topic of every lesson with Madame Zadek.  She saw through my tears, through my desire and good intentions to the truth of what I was really seeking...of what I was really wanting to sing.

Madame Zadek taught me many ways to think of the 'It': It's like a boat floating on a stormy sea; like a child inside of you that might want to laugh at any moment; like looking at a beautiful flower or the snow falling silently outside the window.  I could understand all of these things, for indeed I knew love.  But somehow, my voice, for which Madame Zadek in all her knowledge knew that we needed 'the It', had retreated from that which which we were seeking.

I have been on a spiritual path ever since walking the bright red carpet in the Church we went to as kids.  When I heard the Voice of God call me there one day when I was practicing, at about the time Madame Zadek first told me about 'das Es', I knew that my search for my voice and my search for salvation were one in the same.  They are both simply the search for Love.

What is It that we are all actually seeking?  What is It that we bury?  What is It that needs healing and completion but the realization of true Love?

This true Love has nothing to do with religion or location, with experience or ability.  It is something that is in us at any time, and of which we see and hear only reflections on the outside until we find Its source on the inside of us.  It is why I could always identify passionately with my favorite artists: Leontyne Price and Maria Callas, Ani diFrano and the Indigo Girls, Christa Ludwig, Karajan and Paul McCartney, and my Mother.  I could hear the voice of 'das Es' calling to me from inside of them, begging me to come out and play like the voice of a child, the snort of a horse first thing in the morning, or the playful paw of a puppy in my lap.  It was calling me years and years ago, and, with time, I chose to answer It with all that I am.  I surrendered.

And now, with the violence of whatever made us all, 'das Es' owns me.  But not in the way of a strict patriarch.  It owns me in the arms of a mother and the compassion of a father; in the infinite giving of wonderful parents and the uncompromising love of forgiving siblings.  It owns me, as I am owned in the arms of my lover.

My every hope is that I write things that people understand and with which they identify.  But if by chance, you, reader, are afraid of what I have written here, I would encourage you to welcome the fear. For if I have learned anything on this beautiful journey, it is that where my fear lives, just beyond there is 'das Es'--and the secret Love that heals us all.

And if you should scorn what I've written here or find it childish or inapplicable to the world as we know it today, please take just a moment to listen to the wind or to take a taste of the finest chocolate or the finest wine, or to fall headlong into the embrace of someone who loves you. There you might remember yourself as a child, and by chance even believe that there was a time when 'It' spoke to you in a language you understood.

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