Thursday, March 19, 2009

What Makes a Singer? Meditations on a Quote from Rumi

Love is our Mother and
The way of our Prophet.
Yet it is in our nature
To fight with Love.
We can't see you, mother,
Hidden behind dark veils
Woven by ourselves.

What are we doing when we attempt to learn an art form, to dissect and reproduce an ideal?  We are weaving a web in our minds, building a structure of thought and a system of instructions to hold what we experience as pure love, beauty, and truth.  We try to get as close as we can to this truth by understanding how other people experience it.  But in the end, all of the understanding of technique in the world cannot make us see the truth, cannot allow us to experience it.   

Sometimes I feel that owning a singing technique is a little bit like having faith that we can harness the power of a raging river.  We build up dams and and dig deep for space, and make sure that the pressure of water flow is just right so we can mine the gold that is sifted through the river bottom at just the right velocity to make it all pay out in the end.  But it is easy to forget that the source of our gold (our truest sound) is this raging river of love, energy, and light.  It is easy to get intimidated by the power of love, of music, of the rapids, and to think that we must need some additional strength from somewhere other than our true selves to harness it.  

We must continually reinforce whatever parts of our 'web' of technique to handle the changing character of the river of love.  Sometimes the river is weak and placid and we don't have to work hard to keep things together.  Other times the rapids of love are so strong and the path of the river so deviant that we might feel we have to start building all over again.

What I am learning is that the most important thing to remember is that the river, whether placid or rapid, is Love itself, and nothing to be intimidated by.  Only when we try to change the nature of this love do we run in to resistance.  Only when we wake up to the river and see that it's a 'difficult flow' do we create problems for ourselves in mining the gold of our voices.  All we can do as singers is take stock every day of the Love that flows through us and step up or down our operations in answer to Love.

To be a singer is to be moved by the flow of the truth of who we are in our entirety.  Mostly we are sensitive because the source of our voices is one and the same with the source of who we are: ever-changing and ever-flowing.  

'Hidden by dark webs Woven by ourselves'  we can attempt to weave a structure that will accommodate every shift in our lives.  We can become stiff and build our 'technique' up to the point that we forget there is a river at all under concrete certainty.  Or we can see the strength and unique beauty of allowed fragility, in the way that a spider builds intricate, transluscent designs that sparkle with the light and clarity of love itself but may be destroyed by the heavy dew of evening.  The spider wakes the next day, and like the vulnerable singer awake to the true nature of life and love, rebuilds her web in accordance with the conditions of the morning.

Let us see you Love, Let us see you, Mother.  Indeed, let us be you by building our lives in ways where the webs we weave, rather than hiding us from you, reflect your beauty, ever-true.

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