Whores and hares

April 25, 2012


The past two Sundays, I have gone to see live musical performances. The first was a famous opera; the second was a local “danger folk” band. Two very different experiences that were weirdly similar.

The opera was La traviata and the band was called Hares on the Mountain. I think it’s important to open yourself to a variety of experiences. You can’t know what may spark something creative in you. These two events spanned the range:

  • To one event, I wore patent leather platform pumps. To the other, Birkenstocks.
  • At one event, we ordered champagne in advance so that we might enjoy it at the intermission. At the other, I bellied up to the bar for more draft beer.
  • At one event, the audience was sandwiched neatly and politely in the shiny, pristine opera house. At the other, we were on a large patio, the breeze blowing around a smallish audience that included dogs and babies and a table full of grown-ups coloring with crayons.
  • For one event, I paid dearly for tickets well in advance. For the other, the cost was whatever you chose to drop in the pass-around jar.

Both shows moved me. The soprano laying bare Violetta’s love for Alfredo; the folk singer growling and rasping lyrics based on true stories from his childhood. There were moments in both where tears pooled in my eyes. The performers made me feel what they were conveying. They were passionate and committed.

They made me forget myself for a while and just be in the moment with them. I was inspired and a little jealous – as in, I wish I could find something that I felt this much passion for. I want to give myself over to my craft. To be brave enough to hold nothing back.

We should all strive to bring such passion to our work, or to find work that inspires this sort of no-holds-barred honest commitment. These folks put their whole selves into their work. At each performance, they take a risk by putting themselves out there, baring themselves, giving it all they have.

I think it’s vaulable to make opportunities to be inspired by the genuine creative expression of others. If they can put something personal and original and risky out there, we can too.

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