Lately, I’ve been envious of Quentin and his confidence.
He decided he didn’t want to spend so much time on his computer and proceeded to make a to-do list of projects he’d like to do around the house. So far, he cut down a tree and a hedge, built a container for a garden, planted a garden, mowed the lawn, recovered our steps using up-cycled wood, and attempted to make shoes out of old tires. None of these things have been done to a craftsman standard, and, to my horror, they are rarely done according to safety standards. The tire-sandals ended up being a huge fail, but he didn’t care…because he didn’t do it to succeed. He did it for FUN!! The business man I met a decade ago now wears plaid flannel and steel toed boots every chance he can…even out for dinner!! AND he looks younger and happier now than he did in his 20s. I kid you not, I sometimes fear that, one day someone will ask if I’m his Aunt or his Mom. The most exciting thing in his life right now is the prospect of buying a boat. And, last week-end, when I asked him why he was heading outside, he said, “I’m just going out to watch the ducks.” And he literally sat on the picnic table for AN HOUR…watching the ducks.
I feel like I’ve been living in exactly the opposite world of Q. None of my projects feel fun. I’ve been staring at computer screens in an attempt to remember what the heck I was supposed to finish. My outings involve jogging and stretching in a vain effort to fit into my summer clothes. I have been rehearsing for fear that I will make a fool of myself, and the thought of working on my new album creates a feeling that I’m about to pull teeth out of my head! On top of this, I’ve been tired. The kind of tired that feels like someone has filled your veins with lead and every move you make is elephant-like.
I spoke to Q about it last night and he said, “I think you’ve been going through a big shift since last summer and this seems to be just another chapter in that shift.” I turned 40 this year and it has triggered a type of auditing process in my mind. I find myself reviewing the mistakes I’ve made in the past and then spending time beating myself up for them. The main regret I have seems to be about confidence (or lack thereof). I have done a lot of blaming in my past. Always dependent on others (especially Quentin) to give me the confidence to take my next steps…and when they don’t provide me with confidence (which is impossible because it is an ongoing, endless service), I feel angry and resentful. Even more interesting is I’ve always judged the lack of confidence in others. I have had very little patience for “whiners” who can’t come up with the courage to try new things. What a slap in the face it is when you realize you’ve been judging yourself all along. My lack of confidence has caused me to sit in a state of paralysis for a very long time. Did you know I’ve been planning on releasing a new album for 5 YEARS now? I even upgraded my studio last September so I could “get down to business.” And all I’ve done is record bits and pieces of songs….always saying, “I’ll redo this part later.” I’ve considered hiring a producer and just getting it done, but I know I’ll end up feeling jealous and resentful of them too….thinking, “I could do a better job of this myself.” Always forgetting to finish the sentence…. “If I only had the confidence that you have.”
And so I sit on this precipice. This moment of both rain and sun. This exhausting process of reviewing my life with a new perspective and accountability. If nothing ever was what it seemed, then who do I need to apologize to? I can think of three people off the top of my head. I know I can’t go back to my blaming ways. But I don’t exactly know how to move forward. I still struggle with the belief that becoming completely self-sufficient in confidence will change my relationships. And, I can say from my experience watching Q, it does. But I also know that everything must change and grow. And if we don’t risk this growth, the repercussions are equally detrimental. There are very few things that I’ve done just for the sake of trying. Most things have been inspired by a generous support network that has filled my ego and fuelled my confidence. For some time now, I’ve been detaching from the effects of this network. Oftentimes, when I receive praise or criticism, I puff out my belly and imagine a wall between the words and my person. Or, sometimes, in my mind I’ll say, “Angie will appreciate that comment…I’ll tell her later.” I’ve subconsciously been trying to create a divide between the person who performs and my spirit self. I don’t like how it feels when my performer self starts thinking she’s special because she starts to bully my spirit self into silence…which causes a lot of chaos in my life. My spirit self is playful and fun. She visits often and writes songs, talks to birds, and laughs whole heartedly. But I don’t know how to allow her to exist in conjunction with the pressures of business and the need to keep earning money and to appropriately fit in with society. So I let the performer come in and keep things under control.
My performer self runs on the fuel of false confidence. She is living on the grid and totally dependent on others. My spirit self is off-grid and powered by solar panels. I don’t trust solar panels…especially on cloudy days. So I keep both sources open. Solar power requires discipline. I can’t run my washing machine, air conditioner, and dishwasher at the same time. Therefore, when I’m running on solar power, my clothes, my kitchen, and my house are not as perfect as they could be…BUT, my house is quiet : ) And who am I trying to impress with such things anyway? What competition am I trying to win?
I know I’m being led in a direction that is right for both my human and spiritual sides. I know that all misfortunes have been filled with good fortune. I can see the path that unfolded for me over the course of 40 years without my knowing. Yet, in this life-audit process, I still struggle to embrace it all. I thought it would be different. My expectations were not met. In many ways, the path that presented has exceeded my expectations. Sometimes I simply choose not to observe it this way and I focus on one, minor part: my career. In our talk last night, Q said, “it might seem unfair that someone of your ability and work ethic would not experience the traditional form of success that others of do. But you’ve been rewarded in many other ways.”
Typing this last paragraph created an “a-ha” moment. I just realized that while auditing my life, my on-grid fuel supplier dropped by and has been trying to convince me to give up the solar panels. If I do this, I can get a bigger house with more lights and a hot tub…but I’d better act fast…because I’m already 40 and there’s not much time left…and, by the way, my audit shows a list of decisions I made while under solar power and they don’t look “right” …like not signing a recording contract, burning bridges with management and booking agents, taking two years off, moving away from Toronto, avoiding gigs and people that don’t make me feel good….the list goes on and it’s all true. But, on the other hand, here I am with creative freedom, an honest manager, booking agents I can count on, a strong relationship with Q, a cottage on a lake, gigs I enjoy, and friends I trust.
Turns out, my solar panels were not so bad after all. It’s time to give over renew my commitment to them and quiet my house.
In real life terms, this requires that I stop beating myself up about decisions I’ve made in the past, stop trying to control the future, and start to allow myself to trust that all things are working in perfect order to give the gifts and insights which have nothing to do with my success in the material world. I’m completely within my rights to let go and be happy and to hold love in my heart. One of my deepest fears is that I would become a disgruntled, 40 year old musician who complains about the industry and holds a defeated look on her face at all times. Funny…can I really just decide not to do that? I think I can!
This audit is closed.
It’s time to go outside and watch the ducks.
Thanks for listening.