Last week I was jogging in Central Park, when I came across some young performers rehearsing Godspell. They were singing and dancing on a stage where years back when I was a resident of NYC I had seen the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, the B52’s, and many others.
I jogged in place for awhile, enjoying their deliriously soulful renditions of Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord and Day by Day. I even joked with them after finished a song, pretending I was their director, barking out, “Pretty good, but one more time with feeling!” They laughed, and I was relieved they enjoyed my humor, because they sure weren’t lacking feeling. They sounded and looked as tight as anything I had heard and seen on Broadway.
What a treat, to have literally run right into their rehearsal.
But then I jogged away from the free concert. Why? A voice in my head, one that commanded authority, ordered me to. I was following orders. My ‘boss’ reasoned that being true to my daily routine of aerobics was more important than enjoying what had so graced my life unexpectedly.
But my heart has a voice too, one that has been gathering momentum over the years, getting louder as I have learned to listen and take action.
It was telling me to jog back to The Unity Players.
And not just to listen. It had other plans.
You know the voice. The one that tells you that life is too short to stay in your comfort zone. The one that guides you to jog towards your fears, not to create suffering, but to free you from it.
Sometimes I hate that voice.
But every peak experience I have had in my 53 years has happened because I was willing to follow my heart’s dictation. I tried to remember just that as my pulse was quickening, not from the jogging, but from what I was about to ask the Unity Players.
I asked if they could back me up on Day By Day, just for a minute. I explained that it had been lifelong fantasy to be on Broadway, and they would be helping to make my dream come true. I requested an onlooker if she would take my phone and record it for me. She did.
With these fantastic backup singers and dancers supporting me, I hammed it up, and it was glorious. I am still high from it. Go ahead and watch. It will make you feel good. We all get a contact high from witnessing each other go for it.
After that my inner critic tried to take back the stage and drown out my post-peak experience celebration party by arguing that realistically, this was a rehearsal in Central Park, not me starring in a show on Broadway. But I have learned over time that what I am after on this earth is not to have my name up in lights, but to live my daily life in the light. I’m after moments, more and more of them, when I am experiencing the joy of listening to and acting on the voice that points me to the music, not just as a spectator, but as a vibrant participant. A creator.
Later that day I was waltzing through Central Park strumming my guitar, and met up with a fellow music maker, a missionary from a church in South Africa. I sang him a custom made song to honor his mission. He enjoyed my improvisation, but made it clear that he was not content playing the role of audience: his mission was to sing something with me.
So we made up a song together. This childlike man, free of fear and self-consciousness, stole my heart. Take a look. Yes, he was not fluent in English, but that did not stop him from participating in the song in every which way a human spirit can. Watch him move and sway and dance. It’s as if his whole body was an instrument:
You and I are instruments. We are not here to play it safe, but to play. And to be played.
As I say in one of my autobiographical songs, The Call:
The finest moments of every day
Are when I get out of my own way
And let the spirit flow through me
Playing my part in a symphony
Play me as I am
Use my voice and hands
PS. The Unity Players are performing Godspell in NYC on Saturday, October 8. If you are in the neighborhood, you can get tickets at: The Unity Players NYC Show