Composer Eric Whitacre, like you and me, had a dream. But, unlike most, he took a leap of faith in the direction most "responsible adults" would find laughable: becoming a rock star. Moving in the direction of his heart's desire, he did what Joseph Campbell referred to as "leaving the village compound," (i.e. home to the familiar), setting out along his path, illustrating a modern day hero's journey. When he arrived at his destination, Whitacre found disappointment waiting. While many might high-tail it out of there, retracing their steps back home, head lowered like a dog in submission, this was not for Eric. Okay, so if his idea wasn't immediately available, he would go through the door that was opening to feed another very immediate desire: meeting girls. There was no hissy fit thrown that many of us throw when we hit what seems like an obstacle. Like the willow, Eric stayed fluid, entered the state of flow which we hear a lot about these days and met the unexpected. He became part of something greater. What he found turned out to be seeking him. We are better off for this mutual fit. Take a few moments today to check out the following, even if you have to bookmark it for later. Trust me. It will be worth your time to return. What follows is about something so much bigger than even music. It is about finding your Voice, through your glee, whatever that happens to be.
Are you wiling to do likewise? Here's one form of the exhilarating effect of following your dream, even if it seems hopelessly silly.
Let's retrace Eric's steps, so that it might be useful to you and me, regardless how talented or not we might be in the singing department. Take a gander at the creative process and how it works to transform your heart's desire into concrete reality. Who can't use that these days?
Step One: Validate what's in your heart. Trust what inspires you, even if others laugh. Don't let another's low opinion of himself call your dream to a halt. In my group studio, I have calligraphied and framed a quote from one of my favorites -- Howard Thurman -- which reads: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." My world needs you, not in a suckie kind of way, but by way of invitation.
Step Two: Be willing to self-elect. Whitacre took his desire seriously enough to move forward. So too did Britlin, when she sent him her solo entitled "Sleep," despite her nervousness. Let's face facts. When you put yourself out there where brave men and women have never gone before, (as the old film Mission Impossible put it), it produces shakey knees. Having worked with people for decades in breaking through their own creative blocks, not to mention my own, I can assure you that if you aren't nervous, the creative risk you are taking isn't nearly big enough yet. Take it anyway. It's a start.
Step Three: Express your call to action. Do this out loud! Even when you don't know where the process will end, or what will unfold along the way. Do so anyway. Put it out there. You just never know who's listening, looking and willing to join forces. Eric had no idea that his notion of creating a 50 person virtual choir would lead to the creation of 2000 voices from 58 countries around the world. Nor did he have any notion that he would get an immediate response from Singapore, Sweden and America by young people who were listening for an invitation for creative collaboration, bringing such astounding talent with them.
Step Four: Surrender to becoming part of something greater than your own ego's needs to be the star. Eric had sufficient courage to advance in the direction of his dream, although he did not know the full details. Do you? Just begin where you are. The rest will follow in its own good time.
Step Five: Stay flexible and fluid to create what has never been. As Mark Twain once put it: "Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening.." There is no right way. There is no wrong way. There is only the way unfolding beneath your feet.
Step Six: Don't take the situation personally. You are neither your failures nor your successes. Actually, you need to apply Step 6 as your situation changes. Apply it liberally, or, as we say in medicine "prn," meaning, "as needed."
Prescription: Identify where you would like to be braver in your life, that dream or desire dwelling in your heart. It is the one which you have not yet honored by dismissing it, arguing for your limitations, self-doubt and your own various garden variety of excuses and fears of vulnerability and shame were you to "let the cat out of the bag." (For example, I've had a recurring idea for a product that could support children and young people who would benefit greatly from a pat on the back and increased self-confidence. I've told myself that "I don't have time." I can tell you all sorts of stories to justify that this is true. But the truth is that I've not been willing to take the time and make the commitment to obtain a trademark and gather resources facilitating a necessary template for an international market. So today, I challenged myself to get off my hind end and make some phone calls to launch the first step of this particular "Love Project.") I am challenging you to do likewise. After all, whatever is embedded in the heart that would do no harm to self or others, whatever is there that creates possibility for your own glee in the world to make itself known, would add to the collective good. It's not just about you, you know.
Your turn: Where would you enjoy a bit more courage to feed your glee, and embolden your Voice in a way that would be a sheer joy? What resources might this require? What would feel good about finally taking an action step? I'm listening and I'm learning from you my teachers.
Follow Dr. Cara Barker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrCaraBarker