Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Little Less Fear...

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.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I noticed you were sitting 2nd chair, and hoped your nerves didn't get the best of you. Congratulations! The 3rd horn player can blow it out his ear :=)
My fear? hmmm....yes, spiders to be sure, but also...having a very exposed keyboard passage and not being able to accurately execute it with style and expression.
Pianist friend

Sassy Sundry said...

Way to go, Robyn! I'll see what I can do about the assignment. I wrote a piece on something scary---does that count?

I'll have to read your other essay later. Must dash off to work!

Robyn said...

Hey PF! I believe you executed with exquisite style and expression, especially considering the piano you had to play.

RICH said...

I think I touched on this in one of my latest posts. I fear having fun. Yes F U N. Is it a fear or is it just part of the way I was raised? I need to explore this more. Yeah, I can say I have a math fear and fear of snakes etc. But i like to conquor the more personal fears that lie within me as a person.

Thanks for writing this post Robyn,

Robyn said...

Rich, I just left a note on your post about fun. It has to be a part of the way you were raised. I know all those lines--get to work! what are you gonna do, sit around all day? Whadya do to earn your keep, kid?

You know how hard you work when you're supposed to, so I think it's just a matter of giving yourself permission to "not earn your keep" during the off hours.

dive said...

That's a great little "fear" story, Robyn, but whoever labelled you 'A' for Average sounds like they'd have labelled Michelangelo 'D' for Doodler. What a dork!

I wish I could be there for the big gig on saturday. Second horn! Woohoo! Well done. And to hear you writing so positively about it is great.

As for spiders; they are our friends. They are scrupulously clean and hunt and eat filthy, disease-spreading flies.

I'll have a think on that assignment.

Robyn said...

Dive, 2nd isn't as nice as 3rd, which is what I used to be, but when you don't start playing the thing until you're almost 40, you can't be too picky. I'm grateful for the chair I've got!!!!

spiders do serve a purpose, I recognize, but I'd rather they were nocturnal so I would never have to see them, kind of like opposums.

Average can be nice in that it's free of a lot of pressures, but average is not what I'd like to be.

dive said...

You're certainly not average, Robyn.

And nocturnal spiders !!! Aren't they the ones that crawl into your mouth while you're asleep and drink your drool?
(Sorry, that's just gross).

Robyn said...

I have heard that spiders crawl on your face at night and walk into the occasional open mouth, but I believe it's a big fat lie designed to frighten the arachnaphobes.

Molly said...

Great post, Robyn. Growing up in Florida and Mississippi, my biggest fear was alligators. And there's just no way I'm going to face one of those down ;-) Lucky for me, I now live in a reptile-free state.

Fake Knudsen said...

don't like the public speaking either. apart from that its internal fears for me, anything external can be glassed.

dive said...

Robyn; just be glad you don't live in Norfolk at harvest time.
The harvesting drives all the wildlife off the fields and into the surrounding houses. Our gardens are full of mad rabbits, our attics full of displaced mice and our houses overrun with great big field spiders. Brrr …

Robyn said...

Molly: Alligators! what a dangerous threat, certainly not a fear that needs conquering. If you can't squash it with a big shoe, the it's best to run.

Old Knudson: I don't know why public speaking is such a common fear--the fear of rejection maybe, which is a pretty potent internal fear in itself.

Dive: Harvest Time sounds like the basis for a Stephen King novel. Yikes.