Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Press on

Who are you? Who am I? And what part do or did your parents/guardians play in creating that persona? These questions are becoming increasingly important to answer as things evolve/devolve around here.

Someone posted a wonderful picture on Facebook the other day, of a young man cuddling with a full grown lion. The picture reminded me that once, many, many years ago, I wanted to work in big game conservation. Now this is probably laughable because I grew up in Trinidad & Tobago, where the biggest 'game' is a buffalypso, a cross-bred creature that is half buffalo, half cow I think, bred purely for its meat. We have neither lion nor tiger nor any other kind of game that might have caused me to develop a tendre for such a profession, but there you have it. This is what happens when children watch too much nature TV with their Granny. Anyway, that was how I decided I wanted to spend my life, protecting big game. I told my mother of my plan. She laughed in my face.

Now, I'm pretty sure Mummy didn't laugh in a mean-spirited way. Well, no, I'm actually not sure of any such thing, but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. I don't believe she was mean-spirited so it's perfectly reasonable to give her the benefit of the doubt, but that laughter changed something in me irrevocably. I never thought about conservation again. My dream was laughable, or my mother thought so at any rate, and so that was that.

I've had other dreams since then, many of them. When they were shared with my mother, dreams were shared far less earnestly or freely than that first. I remember when I first owned that I wanted to sing in a way that would (and these were almost my exact words) 'reach in to people's guts and twist them' I shared that information as if daring her to challenge me. True to form, she did challenge me, telling me many moons later that a friend of mine, even (and again these are almost the exact words) 'with her terrible breathing, her voice has more ring than yours'. Editorial comment: the hallmark of a good singer is the ringing quality or brilliance of the voice. To tell someone who wants to sing that their voice lacks that timbre, well that's tantamount to telling them to shut up.

Even as I write this I wonder how I survived the onslaught. Actually, I know exactly how I survived: Granny. I understand (again, giving Mummy the benefit of the doubt) that my mother was trying to protect me from having dreams that could never be fulfilled, but in so doing, did she inadvertently teach me that I was unworthy of the dreams I did have? That might explain the walls I now perceive that keep me from taking certain kinds of risks. I've no trouble risking standing in front of people and singing but so many other things simply slay me, as my mother did so many times. As for the ability to do the singing thing, that success is consequent upon Granny's unwavering support. There's a story about the first major vocal competition I sang in after Granny left us. One curtain on the stage fluttered the entire time I was on stage. It stopped once I was done and remained still the rest of the evening.....but I digress.

As I so often say, that you didn't mean to kill me renders me no less dead. She didn't mean to kill me or my dreams, but so many of them are no less dead and scattered about my feet as a result of her 'protection'. Ah well, lift the legs high, climb over the carcasses and 'press on' as she would say. Press on.

I'm pressing on eh, but it is the battle within that takes the greatest toll.

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