Stop Trying So Hard

October 3, 2013

How very many times have I learned that the best things in life come to us effortlessly. Not to say that hard work doesn’t produce results, but more and more I’m learning that those things that fall into our laps bring with them gifts we cannot predict. I wasn’t looking to sing with a band. I didn’t know how to write a chart. Or conduct a band. In fact, I’d decided in the last year that maybe I wasn’t really even a singer. Maybe I was more of an actor and should just focus on being that.

But there it was – the offer to do a cabaret/jazz gig, in my home town, one night only. No endless weeks of rehearsal and being away from the kids. And more pay in one night than in the entire run of a play.

I didn’t embrace the idea at first. In fact, I tried to make it go away. I appreciated the offer from my friend Jayme who I’d worked with in high-tech nearly two decades before….a friend who was now a fulltime musician and was willing to produce and promote the whole tamale. She’d seen me in a musical production and as a result, invited me to be part of her vision of a “red hot mamas” cabaret. But I knew how much I didn’t know. I knew that bands don’t typically rehearse for gigs. And that the venue we were going to do this show – the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz – pulled from the top echelons of the jazz and music world.

So I hemmed and hawed. Said this and that date wouldn’t work. But then it really came down to – do you want to do this? Do you want to stretch yourself? Do you want to try a new experience? And the answer was yes.

Little did I know that Jayme’s vision was expanding. Her vision for the show was to have three local women create their own “sets” of songs and then to have a headliner to help pull in ticket sales. When the local “headliner” candidate declined, Jayme didn’t give up. She went higher. She picked up the phone and called the management of Maria Muldaur. “She lives in Marin and she’s played some gigs in town, why not?” Who knew that Maria would actually agree?? And that a mere few weeks later, we would be rehearsing in my living room with a full band and a woman who had a top billboard song in 1974, 40 records, and two grammy nominations? I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

There’s no point in discussing the fear, doubt and anxiety that ensued up to opening night. The point of this story is that while I could have resisted this gift that the universe was tossing my way for want of safety and security, I thankfully did not. And the universe opened up. And when the universe opens up, when we’re witness to it, we open up too. In every way. We can’t help it. And then we ride that beautiful wave of experience and creativity without regard for what we can or should try to control.

I think back to how VERY MANY times I have pushed for something I believed I wanted. Fit something into an already-packed schedule; sacrificed family commitments, work commitments, sleep, exercise and a general sense of peace because this “thing” was so important to do. And how many times that thing turned out to be a disappointment for reasons no one could have foreseen.

We can trust the infinite intelligence of the universe and get out of our own way. When we do, truly beautiful things happen.



Poster for "Last of the Red Hot Mamas"