Friday, March 26, 2010

The roar of the greasepaint


I've just realised I have stage fright.  It's only part of the problem, but it is part of the problem. 

I've had stage fright before, sure, but mainly when actually going on stage, or more rarely in certain intimate situations involving more than two people.  I handled it pretty well for the most part I guess, but did self-medicate somewhat a fair proportion of the time in my performing heyday years.  None of that these days though.  No stage either, except for that which Shakespeare so clearly identified as "all the world."  Ah, there's the rub.

Never actually completely paralysed by stagefright myself, I have seen its effect momentarily.  This is a long time ago now.  My until-very-recently guitar teacher, now turned guitar partner (Tim) and I had just finished recording a tape (it's that long ago - CDs were ridiculously expensive to produce and buy so hardly anyone bothered yet, but vinyl was already long gone) of his original music, along with a band mainly comprised of guys he'd known for quite some time.  Frankly, this was some very darn good music too.  We had planned the launch at a very large local university theatre, done lots of publicity, and the night had come.  I was only maybe 19, it was my first major gig and I should have been totally crapping my pants.  Maybe I was, but more likely relying on the arrogant "indestructibilty of youth and cojones" program.  Plus, I totally loved the music so I knew that wouldn't suck.

Being the late eighties, and given Tim's tastes and proclivities at that time, there was a fair bit of synthesiser action, and a bit of a light show too from memory.  The plan was we'd use radio mikes on the guitars (way new and cool tech then, but we were warned we might get the odd taxi radio signal through - just imagine, gently winding through a soulful and deep part of your set when suddenly "CAR 69, A RIDE FROM 34 INTERRUPTION ST BAYSWATER TO THE AIRPORT, ACKNOWLEDGE CAR 69" but luckily it didn't happen), the band would be in place in the darkness before us, begin playing, and we'd walk out from backstage playing, be picked up by a spot, and keep playing as we went to our seats.  You generally play flamenco-style guitars sitting down.

OK. The house looks pretty full.  Big risk given no-one knows us and this is a big room.  Actually, holy crap, it is quite full isn't it?  And everyone I know is here!  And all of these, these, total strangers......OK, Ok, here we go.  Please nothing go wrong.  At this point, I had already learned enough discipline not to allow the "don't fuck up, don't fuck up" mantra any room in my head.  OK.

Tim's the man, he's the composer, the main guitarist, the big kahuna.  So he must go first.  Band in place, final tuning done for the eleventieth time, lights down, music starts........well,, Tim........

This I did not expect.  This guy is a friggin superhero in most departments of life, and the last person I would have thought might freeze.  And really there is no waiting available here, the beat is I have a decision to make.  He's playing already, good, so am I, good, so my hands are tied, as it were.  I could edge past him, walk on (steal the applause and maybe have folks thinking I'm him) - not good - or...Yep.  Head of guitar in small of back.  Push him out.

It worked.  The whole freeze might have lasted 1 or 3 seconds only, but what an eternity for me.  I can't imagine what it felt like for him.  Oh, and the gig went great, and I didn't mess up very much from memory.  But we never attempted such a 'showy' show again, letting the music to the work, as it were.

Now it's my turn.

I downloaded the Proloquo2Go software onto my iPhone yesterday, I have the speaker case, and am getting used to using it.  It will only be a matter of several days before I have customised it enough and memorised it enough to be beginner-proficient.  Another part of this problem is that I might have gone off a bit prematurely.  Yes, haha.  You see, for probably a third to a half of the day I can still speak sort of OK, and Meeta is pretty good at my language anyway.  So I can procrastinate with this.  I realise now though, that once I use this thing at, say, the hardware store, that's it - no more speaking there.  And I will at some point absolutely have to use it.

Now I realise that although my jests of previous posts are genuine, and I am looking forward to some new sorts of gentle mischief, there is also an element of self-protection.  Another layer of clinging to normality.  To use such a device is irretrievably to admit another disability (or 'disnormality) to this "stage of the world."  And even the most eccentric of us still have some urge to fit in in some way - even if it's into the company of so-called eccentrics.

Oh, that's it.  Fear of pain.  It will hurt (given past experience as a guide) when I 'out' myself, to myself and others, as that bit less normal.  As it has each time preceedingly.    Plus, it will change who I am seen to be by so much more than any other discrete change so far.  The only other real radical image-changing change was a long process, from physically excellent to well, um, obviously not quite so much.

Naturally too, I want to be seen as at least competent with the device.  I have a deep-seated part of my identity overlay that is very attached to being competent.  If someone's going to see me as disabled, I would rather they see me for what I am, and not also intellectually impaired.  Pride, eh?  Sorry, all those with intellectual impairments.  It's my issue, of course.  So, it's a performance too.  Will I be any good?

And then what happens?  Again, if the past is any guide, I will grow, heal, and adapt.  This to-date deepest layer of attachment to how I believe I am perceived will be healed, made irrelevant, and I shall find myself yet more free and uniquely me.  Closer perhaps to the divine me at the core.  Connected to the real.  Sure, sounds great, but it's unknown, yes?

So it's not just stage fright really.  It's also that ol' 'fear of enlightenment' stuff we spoke about earlier.  I feel a potential wrenching coming on.  I might have mentioned, coffee in the mornings was the last thing I hung on to in terms of oral intake.  I love coffee.  Even now.  But really it was the normality of making and drinking it, and sharing a simple cuppa with my beloved, that I was clinging to.  It got harder, and harder, and more dangerous, and then I just had to stop.  It was a wrench.

I shall aim at a bit more grace this time around.  Wish me luck.  Thanks all.


  1. Good luck D. sorry, I mean A. :)

  2. What a gift you have! To be so enlightened to know that you're moving closer to your Divine self. I can only imagine your struggles, but I also know that you are very blessed. I would wish you luck with the P2G, but I don't think you need it. It's going to be great! And while it will be one more step away from 'normalcy', it will also be one more thing to keep you connected. I'm very happy for you. :)

  3. I find myself going over little phrases of yours more than once. Like listening to a great few bars of a song over and over. I need that measured buzz more than once. Thx