When I lived in LA, I found you could try various ways to get you from A to B. You’d probably be sitting in rage-traffic no matter which route you chose, but there were options.
Drive thirty-seven miles out of my way? Will I be in semi-continuous motion? Okay!
Here in the Greater Boston area, these roads decided where they went a long time ago, and like a New Englander with a good parking spot at the train station, they’re not moving.
Not only are they not moving; they’re not getting any wider.
One particular thoroughfare I travel widens to 2 lanes, and then it’s like, psych, we’re one lane again, then, oh, we’re back to 2 while you shunt through a series of three stoplights and a busy railroad crossing.
And after all that, we’re squeezing you BACK into one lane, and look out for rogue, crosswalk-averse pedestrians. And potholes.
As the yoga teacher at the Framingham Y said yesterday with her brightest Mass [a] vowels about some jerky necks going on in cat-cow, “Why would you do that?”
Civil engineering challenges aside, I bet you remember a frustrating route or two in your own experience—a series of roads you took only to look back and say, “There was a private helicoptah???!”
I often say, to students “I sure didn’t know that when I was 19.”
I’ll reflect on the moments when technique mystification led to yodel-y cracks in front of self-appointed message board critics or other times when the sound emanating from my furrowed face was less love-lorn tenor and more wounded mule.
I’ll say something like, “Wish I’d known that then.”
Then I take it back because it’s not true.
Number 1️⃣ I didn’t know it then, and that’s just what happened.
Number 2️⃣ if I’d known it then, frustration, confusion, pain, and ego wouldn’t have motivated me to find out how to do it; and I wouldn’t be able to explain it to you seven different ways.
Having made the mistakes—be they crawl-in-a-hole vocal outcomes or rehearsal etiquette gaffs— I have a sweet understanding of these lessons because of the price I paid to learn them.
And here’s the key. 🗝
There were folks who taught me to see myself with love.
There were folks who taught me to look at my prat falls and say, “Of course I did that. What else was I gonna do with the info I had?” (And then use that intel for future comic bits, duh.)
There were folks who showed me the cellular difference I felt when I said, “What can I work on?” instead of, “Great job, asshole.”
Gentleness toward yourself can feel real uncomfortable.
You might’ve decided you can only get where you wanna be by screaming “Top of the pyramid!” inside your psyche. (That’s the only Dance Moms reference I know.)
I’ve logged a few years of experiments, and I’m here to report that screaming at yourself relegates you to that spot on the 5 Freeway at 5:30pm going toward Downtown LA where it becomes one lane, and before you know it, you take that accidental left exit, and you’re stuck in traffic on the 60 to Pomona.
So, if you got yourself into a jam, first of all, pick a good playlist. You can’t be stuck in all that traffic listening to twenty-year-old Dr. Laura replays on AM radio.
Then there are choices.
Call someone you love and see how they are. Haul up that monologue text you’ve been putting off and attach some personal images to it. Search for “A Case of You” radio on Spotify and find a good audition song for that Joni Mitchell vibe musical you wanna audition for. (I’d go see that.)
Or do like Melissa did one time when she was stuck in 10:45pm traffic in La Mirada—Go get In-N-Out Burger and catch a movie.
What I’m saying is this: Often, we take the wrong exit, choose the line at the grocery store with the late-reveal extreme couponer, or think our scheduled DMV appointment is going to result in an expedited experience
Sad trombone sounds all around.
The good news is you probably have GPS, you might get a good character idea from the cover of the National Enquirer, and your DMV official might be named Officer Booty. (This happened to me, and we had a terrific conversation.)
You’re on the right track.
I mean, you’re reading this right now, and that is unequivocal evidence of your wisdom and acumen.
And if you feel like you’re careening in an unfavorable direction, can you pull over, take a breath, and reassess? Looking back, I’ve seen that usually I’m the one behind the wheel.
Put ‘er in Park. Breathe. Put your hand on your chest. Your lungs are breathing. Your heart’s beating.
What’s a choice right now that moves you closer to phew or maybe some lightly fluttering excitement?
(*This is when Melissa often asks me if I made a list. I get annoyed that she’s offering me a practical solution to my brood-swarm. She sits down with me. makes a list, and asks me to mark the priorities. I feel better.*)
Now, check your mirrors, make sure the music’s right, throw her in drive or 1st depending on your transmission, and get going.
Lemme know where you’re heading. I really wanna know. Email me back 💙
Most of all my dear motorist, remember as you belt out KD Lang’s cover of “Crying” (It was on that “Case of You” radio station. You can’t get Joni on Spotify these days.), there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.
ps I’d love for you to take a spontaneous trip to enjoy the emerging Boston spring this coming weekend, but if your dance card is just too full, join me for my faculty recital this Saturday, April 9 at 2pm in Seully Hall.
pps I was walking down the street one morning, and this guy on a unicycle playing the kazoo zoomed by. Everyone’s got their effortless brand.
And I thought this arched brick work was pretty. They don’t build em like they used to. You can see the big Berklee building in the glass.
And look at these pretty purple tiles I spotted at Back Bay station when I put my coffee down.
And here’s Jude reminding you to play in puddles whenever you get the chance.