reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the bow. [k.s. friday]

the bow: sculpture – duke kruse **

at the very end of a concert, out on the apron of the wooden stage, as close up and personal as can be from a proscenium, head tucked down and adrenaline coursing through your body, the final bow is sheer gratitude. it is a humble thank-you. it is an exhilarating release. it is a moment when time dissipates into slow-motion and suddenly you realize that it is over. it is full of you-are-exactly-where-you-are-supposed-to-be. it never ceases to amaze me. and then, it is the moment to tuck back behind the curtain, head to the green room, breathe a prayer of thanks, and start the running review in your mind’s eye.

it matters not the size of the audience. a few people in folding chairs, a park filled with thirty-thousand, a few hundred seated in upholstered comfort. you bring the same program, the same dedication, the same commitment to your art, no matter how many people are there. the give and take of audience energy makes a difference, yes, but any performing artist can tell you that delivering the work is the same, regardless. one must actually work harder with a smaller audience.

you can feel it. the minutes your delivery resonates. you can feel it. the minutes you know you need to rapidly move on, change the course. you can feel it. in the perfect pause between lines of a story you tell, laughter waiting in the wings. you can feel it. the heart of a story falling into the hearts of those gathered to watch. it is a dialogue without dialogue and your bow at the end of the concert acknowledges their participation in it.

i would say that the things i miss most about the-job-i-no-longer-have are those moments of resonance, the moments that don’t find a place in a job description, the moments that cannot be measured. they are the moments birthed through expansive experience, through study, through empathy, through intuition, through gifts given to you that have no names, no deservedness; instead, just the compelling imperative to be used.

the times in the choir room when, in the middle of starting to rehearse a piece of music, a story surfaces and i must tell it. that laughter opens everyone; the piece of music has four-part heart. the times when i direct others performing together, joy on their faces, their breathing different because of that which they have created together, that which we have rehearsed together, the spirit which we have sown in the music. the times in the chancel, in the middle of a particularly poignant song, standing at the piano and singing into the boom mic, glancing at jim playing guitar and singing harmony and telling him with my eyes to make another go-round, looking out into the gathering, eye contact, and seeing the song fall upon them, touch them, engage them, speak to them, tug at them. those are moments when music connects faith-dots, moments of doing the work, moments of shaping a journey, moments in which i bow internally to that which guides me.

there have been many: many prosceniums, many aprons, many black boxes, many chancels, many flatbeds, the floors of wholesale, retail, television studios, the creaking floor under my piano, the patio out back. they each bid to the imperative. they each elicit my gratitude.

the stage echoes under my boots. as i walk to the center, take the bench at the piano, place my hands on the keys and my face up close to the mic, it is always with great anticipation. it is the culmination of planning, designing, writing, practicing, rehearsing. it is lighting and sound and balance. it is storytelling through song with lyrics, through song without lyrics, through song without music or lyrics, through narrative and through rests. it is the forerunner of a deep bow i will hold onto until the next time.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

listen to music – bow included – in my little corner of iTUNES

** this stunning sculpture’s home is next to my piano in my studio


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it just is.

photo the play is over and we move on…and i will be moving back to my piano. but before i do that, i have to think some more about this experience. standing on the stage as an actor in front of two sold-out audiences was…pretty amazing. it took me time to process entering this opportunity and it’s taking me time to process moving into Next.

one of the things david said to me the day of the first performance was something like this: it’s important to not look at the audience as the audience ‘out there’…instead stand here – on the apron of the stage- and invite them in, embrace them. i suddenly recognized this as not so much different than what i do in any of my concerts. i feel as if i am inviting people into my living room (or my home studio)…well, actually, my life…each time i play a concert. and there i was, on the stage as an actor, inviting them in….

i was nervous backstage waiting. i always have eager anticipation in the green room; i spend time pacing and praying and being quiet and internal. i will sip coffee and run through my program in my head. and i fuss with my hair. photo-1this was much the same. i paced. i prayed. i was quiet and internal and i sipped coffee while running lines in memory. and yes, i fussed with my hair.

i didn’t want to be thinking, thinking, thinking as i stepped into these performances. i knew that would detract from the moment. i found, like in concert, i just needed to be present. if i am performing a piece of music, it is to my detriment if i start to think too much. the preparation is done at that point…it is time to deliver, to share it…yes to invite them in. thinking, at that point, makes it plastic, measured, contrived. and raises the chance of getting lost. just being in it is what makes it fluid, what makes it permeable, what helps it to resonate with someone outside yourself.

and so i stepped out onto the stage, in a role that i am not well-versed in…the role of actor…and i quietly became the characters in the play. i could feel them. this play has a seven-minute long silent section near the end. i had the distinct honor of holding those moments as the audience watched me re-pack a hundred-year-old trunk- a trunk filled with momentos of a ten year old boy who had died from typhoid fever and in which his momma packed all of his belongings and plastered it into the wall of a house on a ranch in california. it was with slow deliberation, weeping, that i re-packed this trunk, in silence, while the audience joined me in these emotional moments. not so unlike telling stories on stage or playing or singing something that resonates with the audience that joins me on the bench.

hmm. i think i am finding a theme here. it’s not so unlike….

and yet, the moment that the stage manager said to me, “i was so wrapped up in what you were doing that i almost missed light cues…” i felt that i was doing good work. and, even more important, when he told me that i had “brought intention” i realized, for sure, that it was exactly the same. no piece of music is without intention. no action on stage is without intention. no breath is without intention.   it is to live. to honor. to share. it’s not trying to be convincing. it just IS.

photo