The call went out on Facebook on Tuesday morning:
“Anyone know of someone that would like to perform a song for the Dalai Lama today or tomorrow while one stage with him?? We have some time that freed up.”
Here, a long-ignored yearning, knocking again at the door to my heart.
I stared at my computer screen, watched the cursor blink in the empty comment box below it.
My first response was absolutely sincere, but it ignored completely my inner whisperings:
“Sharing with my vocal coach, Stacy Pendleton. She'd be perfect, and would no doubt choose a beautifully suited piece for the Dalai Lama's visit.”
My hands hovered over the keyboard, a safe harbor in which I’ve oftentimes reconciled Present Reality with Distant Memories.
You can do it! You’ve got years of singing experience behind you. Plus, voice lessons.
Yes, but it’s a scary thing. My heart’s pounding in my chest, my hands are trembling, and…and…feel my palms! They’re already sweating.
Yes, and yes. But. It’s a remote possibility, so what’s the harm in asking?
The battle was swift and fairly painless, and in the end…Courage for the win! I whispered a prayer, rolled up my sleeves, and typed my way past the unspeakable memory that kept its tentacles wrapped around my singing voice, for lo these many years.*
“I would be thrilled—deeply honored!—to participate in some way, if you decide to include a choir of voices.”
(*Some of you know that story already, which I won't reprise in this post. I offer you, instead, a picture of my earliest vocal ensemble. Apropos, seeing as how it's also Throwback Thursday.)
That's me, wedged in the middle, with the faraway look in my eyes!
For much of that day, my stomach was doing backward flips and cartwheels, which so often happens when I find myself on that cutting edge/bleeding edge of Something Big.
What’s your experience? the event facilitators asked me, What can you bring to the table?
"I performed with my sisters at my father's revival meetings, traveled with choirs and ensembles, took private lessons…It's a dream of mine, to sing at a special event such as this.” I left out the part about having lost my singing voice for a very long time, because—as it occurred to me later—it no longer mattered.
For several shining moments (hours, really), I visited the realm of Possibility. I crossed my fingers, paced the floor, contemplated the deeper significance of what I'd signed on for. Alone in the anteroom between Now and Future, I texted my voice teacher, and I posted this note to Facebook:
prayer flags at Land of Medicine Buddha
It's a small chance, but not outside the realm of possibility. A dream realized, not memoir-related but close. If you're so inclined, please help me send good vibes into the world, in hopes it comes to pass. If not now, then when the time is right. (Sorry to be opaque about this, but I don't want to jinx/jeopardize my chances.)
The responses were swift, and so affirming. Here again, I had a big ol’ lump in my throat, but in my heart, I was singing!
In the end, they chose someone who’d already been cleared by Secret Service. Makes sense, seeing as how the event organizers didn’t know me from Eve. Too, it was very short notice, and I don’t have a wide repertoire at the ready. And come to think of it, I’m more of a backup singer than a soloist, anyway.
I’m sure the person they chose did an amazing job, and that His Holiness was blessed by her musical performance. But I volunteered, too, and that was a gift in itself. No, I wasn't selected, but I offered up my singing voice to serve the greater good, and that’s the main thing. And that I’ve reclaimed my ability to make a joyful noise—that’s the best feeling, ever.