Tuesday, May 12, 2015

     By the time one reaches the seventh decade, many believe we are “out to pasture,” “past our prime,” “over the hill.” Well, guess what. It ain’t so. Anyone can do anything at any age with the right attitude. 

     I’m not a concert pianist, but I can play the piano. I am not a professional speaker, but I can give a decent talk. I am not a professional actress, but I can act. I took all of these traits, put them together in a package, and voilà: a one-woman show. 

     From the moment I thought of the concept of telling the story of a famous French composer through the eyes of the woman in his life, I could visualize the performance that I delivered yesterday. I knew it would take a great deal of work, practice, rehearsing, energy, resilience and courage. I wasn’t afraid of any of this, but, of course, I was afraid of making mistakes. Having performed as an amateur for years, I knew that the worst thing that could happen is that I would disappoint myself, and that even if I did, I would try harder the next time. I would not, however, stop doing something that gave me such great fulfillment.  

      People think that once you retire, you don’t have to do anything but play sports, read books and lie on a beach. For some, that’s enough. It isn’t enough for me. I need a purpose, and my purpose is to use my God-given talents to entertain, educate and energize those who choose to listen. It doesn’t matter if the audience is seven friends or 100 strangers, I am just as nervous and just as zealous. 

     Yesterday, I proved to myself that the one-year journey I chose to take was worth every minute of my hard work. The beauty of this project, and this is crucial, is that I loved the process. Researching the composer, reading about his life and the fascinating challenges, scandals, stories that made him famous or controversial was only part of the excitement. Once I found all the information, I learned the music. I didn’t choose the pieces that were the most flashy, as I’m not a professional. I chose the ones that were manageable but memorable. Then I wrote the script narrating the story in the voice of the woman who shared his life. Finally, I memorized it all, and took it to my audience.

     There was never a time when I wanted to give up. There were times that I thought I’d never get it the way I wanted it, but I kept working every day--not for five or six hours, but for an hour or two. I practiced about thirty minutes a day, so I was never overwhelmed, and the work was never anything but fun. If you’re not having fun, you won’t keep working. (My philosophy as a teacher of 40 years)

     It wasn’t perfect. I made a few mistakes, but the overall package was well-received, and I walked off stage very proud. The 
audience was enthusiastic and complimentary. I now have a foundation on which to build a new mini-career--not for pay, just for fun and satisfaction. Why am I doing this? Because I can.