makes everything better. I have always been a very fearful person--afraid of my shadow, afraid of peripheral vision, afraid of spiders, afraid of snakes, afraid of deep water, afraid of roller coasters, afraid of public speaking, afraid of claustrophia-enducing enclosures, afraid of being seen or heard or criticized. A few years ago I wrote a story about an attempt to conquer my fears. Just writing the little piece was cathartic, but once I set out to chip away at all the little demons that plagued me, I quickly learned that facing them head on was the only solution. Tackling each one despite gripping anxiety would go a long way to recondition my responses to perceived threats, crawling things, putting my head under water.
Last night I went to an orchestra rehearsal for this coming weekend's Christmas concert. It was the first rehearsal in which I would play 2nd horn instead of 4th, and the bell of my horn would be facing a player with a masters in horn performance. I was concerned about it, not wanting to humiliate myself, but compared to how I would have reacted to that circumstance three or four years ago, mere concern was nothing I couldn't just stomp out with a big boot. A few years ago, my inner horn demon would have inflicted stomach cramps and nail biting and frantic chatter about what a loser I am and how there is no hope for me as a musician. But last night I determined to march into the rehearsal room, unpack my horn, sit in my assigned seat, and have fun playing Christmas pops. There wasn't a note I couldn't reach, not a rhythm I couldn't count for myself, not an exposed part I couldn't handle with glee (glee, I say, because it's Christmas).
I have no idea what the 3rd horn player thought of my playing, but I can honestly say that I don't care. Over the past few years, I have learned that I can put my head under water and not drown, I have ridden a roller coaster without smashing my skull on the pavement below, I have given an eloquent presentation in front of a room of local artists, and I have reconditioned myself to react to orchestra rehearsals with joy instead of dread. I tell you, it puts a smile on my face when I think about playing with that group, and my finger nails are better for it. Now, if I could figure out how to accept spiders as creations of God instead of tools of Satan, sent to earth to torment my creepy-crawly-hating soul.
I have gotten away from assignments in my posts, but here, I think it would do you all a service to suggest you name at least one fear that torments you, and then agree to face the damn thing head on.