Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Had an interesting "voice lesson" this weekend at a concert at a local church, at which one of my works was being premiered, and also at which the choir was performing John Stainer's The Crucifixion. I was lucky enough to have a brief but quite enjoyable solo, the High Priest who condemns Christ, snarling "What need we of any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy." (Oh, I so love playing bad guys.)

I asked the bass soloist, a wonderful fellow who has an unbelievable resume that includes many a Broadway show, something about vocal production and volume, and he told me that there wasn't a single answer--you have to cooperate with the room. Give the room what it wants, and you'll have no problem making yourself heard. Above all, don't fight with the room--it's bigger than you are. Really, really, much bigger than you are. Work with the room, and you won't have to work at all.

Years ago, I heard an Olympic athlete say, "Obey nature, and nature will obey you." From an acoustical point of view, this makes absolutely perfect sense. But even as he was explaining this to me, I couldn't help thinking, there's a life lesson in this, too... and that's why this is the answer you're getting, here and now.

Had my usual acupuncturing and dharma talk today; got some gentle but profound points, working my energetic connection to the divine on the deepest level. We talked about my legs, too. I told him that I think that I feel them fading away; he told me that I need to get my consciousness back into them, and that they need to be exercised, even if they don't feel like getting exercised. Or in his words, "whether or not they feel like being exercised."

Earlier this afternoon, I thought, well, I guess it's time to start confronting the problem and fighting it. But then I remembered this weekend's lesson: cooperation, not confrontation. Right now, of course, I'm somewhere between acquiescence and denial, hoping the problem will if not just go away, at least take a little more time before it nails me forever. But, as we learn in aikido, the first move that you make is in the same direction that your opponent is moving; first, you move with your attacker, before you adjust his trajectory away from you. One exercise teaches you how, even before you even make contact with your opponent, to move yourself into a different position, so that you see things from your opponent's point of view.

So there's an interesting problem; if the leg weakness, the leg fading, the leg resistance to exercise, are all viewed as the opponent... first, I must see the problem from my opponent's point of view. Then, join with that energy, move in the same direction as that energy, and then, and only then... redirect it, to put it back into balance with the universe.

And to do any of that... I need to care. Something I haven't really had the energy... or, I've got to be honest with you, even the desire... to do, for a long time. A very long time. I need to care enough to listen to my legs, to connect my consciousness to them, and to redirect them to a state of restoration. Caring is the big piece of the puzzle I've been missing, and reconnecting to my heart was the main purpose of today's acupuncture treatment.

So that's it, for now. I'm going to put my computer down and go do tote renshu, empty-handed kyudo practice. Now, even at 9:45 at night. Because big changes are created by small changes. The first of the "eight steps" is ashibumi, planting the feet. And then, before you go on to the next step... you listen, to what your feet and legs are telling you about both you and the earth you're standing on, and the state of that connection.

The MS journey... is listening.

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