On a recent fall weekend, I had my yearly dose of "I want to be a rock star." Of course, it is not just any rock star I want to be. There is one artist who I listen to with so much awe and admiration that when I see her live, it is hard not to wish I was her. It is ridiculous to want to be another person. I know that. What do I know of how she goes about her life, of what she is like in her relationships, of how she moves in the world. But her talent, her apparent ease in her skin, her comfort on stage as she plays her many guitars and sings with a range that belongs to birds and possibly angels (angels who have had experiences)...that part I do wish I could manifest. But setting aside that wish, I witnessed her at Radio City Music Hall this fall and was inspired by what she gave and she gave a lot. Though I had heard it before, that night she sang a line that went straight to my heart, causing me to lean over to my boyfriend and repeat it. I can still hear her sing it..."do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?" What a beautiful notion...do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet? Why not, I asked myself? What better thing is there to do? I thought I would go home and write the words down somewhere I could see them daily and remind myself that I could make that choice each day...multiple times a day, for surely I will forget. I didn't write it down yet, but I am writing this blog post.
The following week, I was at the dentist's office about to receive an injection of Novocain. The dentist was on my right and his assistant, an older woman, whose age I couldn't define, was on my left. Just as he was about to inject the needle into my gum, I felt the warmth of the assistant's hand cover mine and her other hand she placed on my shoulder, gently massaging me. It was the most unexpected and comforting distraction. This is clearly not in her job description. When the injection was done, (twice), she lifted her hands and the doctor left the room to let the numbness set in. I thanked her for her kindness and while I waited, I learned some things about her. It turns out she is a widowed 82 year old who works there twice a week, volunteers with a therapy dog another day, and offers her time to yet another charitable cause a fourth day. She has no intention of sitting around, but all of being of service. I thought of the song and knew I was in the presence of someone who is most likely a blessing to everyone she meets. She knows what I keep reminding myself of...that there is something greater at work and something larger to tap into than our daily, insistent need to have the to do's done, the unknown settled, the issues fixed, the fears placated. She can recognize the angels in children (as she called my daughter) and she can willingly and freely offer comfort from possible suffering by the simple touch of her hand. She does it because she can. It is inspiring and it reminds me that I don't want to be a rock star; I want to be that. I want to lay down my fear and give myself like that. And, I know it is fear that keeps me from being a blessing to everyone I meet. When I am fearful that I won't make ends meet and find myself in the hustle to make it happen, I end up too stressed to see around me, to take in the stranger by my side on the train, to enjoy what is right here. When I am consumed with how I am doing, or how I appear, or what I need, I lose those connections. Fear causes us all to contract, to narrow our vision, to retract what we have to offer. It arises when we think we aren't enough, or that we don't have a enough, or that we are unsafe, whether it is in our careers, in relationships, in whatever with think success is. In that pulling in, we lose sight and touch with the beauty we already posses, with the tools we intrinsically have. It is hard to give or receive from that place.
Undoubtedly, fear has its place, too, it can keep us from danger and from acting recklessly. What I keep learning is that as long as we know fear is at work in any given moment, we can make a choice to still be open within the fear. I can remind myself that, in this very moment, I am safe. I am healthy. I am clothed and fed and have shelter. I am loved. In this moment I can breathe in and out. I am alive. Again and again I can be present to what is right here and say, "and this moment...and this moment...and this moment"...meeting each one.
I want to be a rock star. It's a different kind than my dream life might conjure. It is not accompanied by lights and outward applause. To be this kind of rock star is to have the intention of giving fearlessly everyday and to handle fear with kindness when it does arise, as I know it will. I want to tend to it with tenderness as soon as I recognize its face and be able to keep an open heart. From there, I can meet the eyes of another in the only moment we truly have...this one right now. What greater talent is there to cultivate than this? I think I'll keep practicing and maybe I'll take out my guitar and try that again, too.