By LISA MARIE BAUTISTA, student in the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program
This post was written for Cindy Shearer's CIA 7712: MFA Project. In these blogs, students are sharing their discoveries, reflections and learning as they enter the process of creating a body of art work and culminate their degrees.
I have a hard time with comfort, like the time I was sitting in my car, listening to Ani Difranco’s song, Superhero. “I used to be a super-hero no one could touch me, not even myself. You are like a phone booth I somehow stumbled into. And now look at me I am just like everybody else.” I was thinking about my marriage. I was having such a difficult time understanding what I felt, until Ani put it into words that expressed my relationship regrets. I had realized I had to end it yet actually leaving took me weeks, maybe even months, to allow myself to be uncomfortable; so I could start the separation. I did not know discomfort could be helpful.
Standing on stage in front of people, is like this discomfort I am describing. To walk onto a stage is like trusting the unknown. I have no idea what might happen, but I have expectations. I trust in the universe. I much prefer committed performances due to the intense responsibility to show up. I can’t say no to a committed performance.
I step onto stage and I am no longer myself. But the challenge is to be myself completely. This is what the audience wants from me. They want my soul, and I’m not against giving it to them. My instinct is to share with the world because I am part of our collective existence already.
So, I am on stage, singing “Summertime,” reminding myself to breathe. My heart is in dire need of a whiff of lavender to calm my nerves and I start singing the song the second time around. Somehow nearing the end of the song I have gained enough courage to feel my stomach. I become grounded and deliver a spontaneous ending that transforms my beliefs surrounding my capacity to sing. I am healing. I have found my voice, my message, and my courage to express it.
Singing requires a deep level of comfort. Mostly physical, the throat, the jaw, and the shoulders have to be completely relaxed. It’s like dancing with one’s mouth, a balance of engaged muscles and grace. The physical efforts rely on the emotional and mental energies, but ultimately spiritual comfort is necessary to express authentically. A spirituality that comes from the earth is needed to achieve a full voice. One which relates to our humanity, enters throughout the singer’s body, and then exits into the intimate space of the world around them.
I had to learn this holistic trust in myself, in order to sing as I am meant to. I had to learn to become comfortable in uncomfortable situations. From numerous meditation teachers, voice teachers, and life in general, I have been taught my comfort level can be adjusted instantly by changing my perception. I now choose to embrace discomfort as a teacher and I continue to work with the challenge of internal and external discomfort daily.