The Unbelievable Stark Contrast Between Me and…me.

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It’s time I wrote about this.

A few months ago a friend of mine I have known for a few years now came for the first time to see me perform. Her amazement at the difference between the person who makes and performs music and the painfully awkward, strange person she sees almost daily at the schoolyard reminded me of something I need to make clear to those of you who have been avoiding coming out to a gig for years because you just think ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good.’

IMG_20150928_125813[1]I see it all the time, in the people who have seen or talked to me elsewhere and then seen and heard me perform. The shock. The sheer amazement. That not only a singing voice can be so vastly different to a speaking voice, but that I could actually entertain people instead of repel them – it’s one of the many reasons I would like to be a hermit that never darkens the outside world EXCEPT to step on a stage and perform.

Your misinformed preconceived ideas of what consititutes a person who is talented, able to perform well and entertain people, is sorely wrong!

The fact is, many of the most talented people in the world suffer from some form of social anxiety or are neurologically untypical in some way. The great majority of artists (really good artists) draw their inspiration from their pain and difficulties with this ridiculous thing we call life.

Of course, the reverse happens.  People who have seen and heard me sing before getting to know me better are just as flumoxed by my inability to handle what other people just take in their stride as ‘normal’. But, that’s not as bad, because I’ve already won them as fans, and their inability to comprehend my inability to function in ‘everyday life’ is not so much of a problem…except when it is.  I also remember immediately after Robin Williams committed suicide, an uber extroverted positive type friend of mine remarked something along the lines of, “I don’t think he could have actually killed himself – he was so funny and seemed so happy.”  I love this woman, but this statement is pure ignorance.  Depression just doesn’t work like that.  And, more often than not, the great comedians are the ones that struggle the most with severe clinical depression and thoughts of suicide. One who only sees the talent and doesn’t see the struggle is in danger of losing the whole person.

I was also talking to another musical friend of mine last night.  She is very talented.  She is highly educated and intelligent.  She also has Aspergers and suffers from severe anxiety, among other things.  We were both lamenting how we have encountered the attitude (even from health professionals) that ‘we are too intelligent to be mentally ill.’  WTF????!!! This is just ridiculous.  Would you tell a well-educated and articulate person with cancer that they were too intelligent to have cancer?

So yeah, it works both ways…but, what I am mainly focusing on in this post is the former problem of getting people who avoid coming out to hear me because they can’t believe that someone who isn’t capable of making a phone call and struggles to get out of bed in the morning would be able to entertain them from a stage. PLEASE, get rid of the preconceived (ignorant) notion. You’re missing out on some good music.

Now, I realise, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. And, those of you who read my blog have already been won over, while those of you who are thinking ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good’ are also the ones who would never ‘waste your time’ reading my blog.

Do I sound a bit angry?  Sorry/not sorry.  It’s just frustrating.  No one wants to be judged on just one aspect of their personality and ability.  And no one wants to be judged on their DIS-ability.  Yes, I have issues.  Yes, they are a pain in the arse and make life a burden a great deal of the time. NO, they do not stop me from being a talented person worth listening to.

And that goes for everyone who is ‘different’ in some way.

Take your bloody filters off.

Accept both sides of the coin.

We are fucked up (so society would say), but we are also awesome.

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The Importance of ‘Getting It’

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When faced with the very real possibility of becoming homeless, the threat of losing my piano was an overwhelming and thoroughly devastating thought. And, was it not for a friend who told me that, if we have to go into emergency accommodation, she would keep my piano for me, I am sure I would not have been able to prevent my breakdown.

See, this friend gets that my piano is not an optional possession. She said to me, “Not having your piano would be like losing an arm, like not having part of yourself.”

Exactly.

Some people could not understand my distress at being faced with this loss…of, what to them, is just a thing. They said things like, “Well, it will be different, but you will deal.”

No. No, I would not “deal”. My piano isn’t a want; it is a need. And, life being the bastard that it is, sometimes we don’t get what we absolutely require. Sometimes we lose the necessary, the very necessary. And, when this happens, it is not possible to simply deal.

This friend of mine was the first person, other than my husband, to acknowledge the gravity of the matter. Her offer and comfort mean so much to me. More than that, it’s her understanding that is so very precious to me.

Could I live without my piano? Could I survive? Well, fucking hell, of course, I could. But, survival is very overrated. A loss like that would mean being forced to go on in a grief-ridden, crippled state. A fate very much worse than death. That I will not be forced to do that at this time is a relief beyond my ability to describe.

Well meaning people don’t help when they say, “you’ll survive”. The only thing that helps is understanding and a willingness to, well, help. That is compassion. That is friendship.

I can explain it to you…

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Do you ever feel like a radical whirlwind, like a tempest? A force of nature. A force with which to be reckoned. I do. I really do. Sometimes.

However, most days I feel more like an anaemic breeze, just a whisper of a wind, fighting to be heard – to be understood  – above the clamour.

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Most days we can talk and we can blog until we’re blue in the face, but people hear only what they want to hear and see only what they want to see, and their preconceived notions and judgements make us incomprehensible to them.

So, why do we keep fighting this losing battle? Why do I?

I’m a glutton for punishment.

Paul prayed for the church of Ephesus that God would open the eyes of their understanding. No one will ever be convinced by debate or argument (no matter the passion of the debater nor how well-informed and educated the argument is). Arguments are never won, regardless the eloquence of the words or the intelligence of the one who speaks/writes them. They (the arguments/debates) can be conceded and defaulted, and you can live to beat someone over the head with your club another day. But, until the other person “sees” it, there will be no convincing them. This is a matter of revelation. The aha! The epiphany. And, you can pray for people to have that, but you can’t make them have it.

I can explain it to you. But I cannot understand it for you. If you are determined not to get me, you won’t.  And so, to get along, to function in society, we agree to disagree. Or, we don’t, and wars (big and small) ensue. But, what if we all prayed that the eyes of our understanding would be opened and enlightened? What might happen then? What if we were no longer incomprehensible? What if we all really understood?

Food for thought? Or me just beating the drum again…