Over the last 5 weeks, 2255 km of driving, 5 remarkable days at Omega singing, and the 5 days since then, I’ve been following the breadcrumb trail touched off when I first saw the invitation to be part of Bobby McFerrin’s Circlesongs workshop.
If you’ve been reading my recent eNews articles here, and here, you already have a sense of how significant this journey has been for me. My commitment to saying ‘yes’ to the call of my life to be part of the Circlesongs program was clear. But it’s truly been a journey of discovery.
I had the sense I was not just stepping into the familiar “Increasing Space & Freedom of Authentic Presence” at the top of the cone (you can see this in the infographic I call the Integrated Cycles). This felt more like a venturing up into the, for me, much less familiar territory of the slippery, yummy, triple scoop of ‘ice cream’ at the top of the cone.
The only musical ‘training’ I’ve had was singing in church in Barbados as a teenager over 40 years ago! There, it seemed like everyone just sang harmony organically. It was all around me, and without any music lessons, my ear became attuned to hearing, and singing, in that way. Yet here I was, along with over 160 singers, stepping into a group with Bobby and 6 other fabulous instructors. For most participants, music was a central theme in their lives, so they were much more experienced in the technical and theoretical background of all this than I was.
The contrast felt stark, and the range of emotions swirling in me was complex!
Bobby McFerrin leading us in a Circlesong at Omega last week …
I had come from my home in Columbus, OH, where the life I’ve created over the last 3 years has been a nurturing space. I’ve been quietly doing my own internal work and reflection. It’s been an enormously important time of development and growth in my life and business. Though I’ve developed a few wonderfully supportive friends locally, much of my life and work has been virtual. Rarely have I been in the presence of so many people, and definitely not in such a powerful space of improv and creative possibility!
Together in Circlesongs we were engaging our passion for singing, and I felt excited about that. We were being invited to stand in the part of the circle where we felt at home – and free to stretch beyond that, experimenting in singing with different parts. I mostly sang with the tenors, but also ventured at different times from bass through to low soprano. That freedom felt wonderful, and being immersed in the beautiful and powerful harmonies often brought me to tears.
There were the times where I felt more uncertain, and at times scared. Those more challenging moments came when we were asked to play with exercises that called us into stepping out from the crowd, being much more visible, singing into the microphone, or teaching a part we’d created for a section of our group to sing.
AND for me there was a stretching into the sheer physicality of it all – singing for several hours a day. Moving around the various beautiful locations at Omega where our groups were meeting. Concentrating in order to get what were sometimes unfamiliar rhythms and sounds. At times the contrast of simply being in the presence of SO many more people than I’ve been accustomed to was a stretch.
One of the quiet spots near the Sanctuary at Omega …
In those moments, being able to retreat to my room, or wander through some of those quieter spaces at Omega were crucial in nurturing the space in me that allowed me to hold the complexity of what I was experiencing.
Another piece that was equally important was practicing saying ‘no’.
There was plenty of opportunity for trusting myself and honouring both my ‘no’ and my knowing. I said ‘no’ to being in the center and leading a circle involving all 160 of us (that was too much of a stretch!), or being part of a small group doing one of the more technical singing exercises (far more counting and timing than I was up for), and once even recognizing after about 20 minutes that an optional breakout group just wasn’t for me and quietly leaving (something I’d not have had the courage to do in the past). Nurturing myself in the midst of the complexity of all this newness was important practice. Some of those moments – like when I honoured my ‘no’ and left, only to immediately strike up a conversation with someone I met as we walked up the hill, who turned out to be a Facebook friend I’d never met in person – were especially delightful and juicy!
So it’s only been 5 days since leaving, and I know there’ll be lots more emerging, but what has following the breadcrumb trail shown me so far? Even though it sometimes felt slippery and scary, I’ve I discovered that once I was there, I actually loved being in the center of the circle, taking the microphone and allowing my voice to be heard. I also enjoyed the surprise of discovering the part that had come to me in that moment, and then teaching it to the group. Being in that space of improv was an emotional rush – very much like the yumminess at the top of the ice cream cone!
I’ve also realized being in the energy of aliveness of this group of people (ranging in age from 20s-80s, and from several different countries – with all their differences, yet such resonant spirits) enlivens me. While I do love quiet moments, and though I don’t yet know how to do it, I’m committed to expanding my own circle of connections here in Columbus. Also somehow, there’ll be more singing and music!
And I’ll be continuing to follow the breadcrumb trail as I engage my passion of expanding my capacity for powerful, authentic presence in meeting each moment of life – whatever it brings. Together with those whose lives I touch, I’m committed to doing what it takes to unleash the power to follow the call of our lives, and enact those visions that the still, small voice is whispering (or perhaps shouting!) in our ears.
If you’ve been hearing those whispers, or feeling the impulse rising in you to say ‘yes’ to the call of your life (even if you’re not sure exactly what the call is), I’d love to hear from you. Wherever you find yourself in the cycle, if you’re noticing a breadcrumb trail, and are curious about exploring further, do be in touch.