There are moments when we face a seemingly little choice, but how we choose can change the whole course of our lives. Funny thing, we don’t always see those moments when we face them. Luckily, yesterday, I did.
Right now, I’m on the train between Granada and Madrid on the final leg of my journey here in Spain. In two days, I will finally board the plane and return home.
But yesterday, well, yesterday wasn’t such a good day, at least in the beginning. I was so dreadfully tired, and to tell the truth, I wasn’t totally happy with the way I had sung on the concert the night before. It wasn’t an awful performance; it just wasn’t up to my full potential. So, when the chaotic schedule of the final day of the course caused conflict between coaching appointments and preparations for last night’s concert, and when in those coaching sessions I felt like a piece of taffy being punched and pulled in many directions all at once, well, I snapped. Yes, there I was, as I had been on trips before, standing in some square in some strange town in front of some massive cathedral, cell phone glued to my ear, sobbing and talking long distance, and with the strong impulse to run.
One factor in a break down like that is, well, that by the time the final concert rolls around, I’m just plain exhausted. And the schedule for this week was particularly brutal – usually in a country like Spain or Italy, at least your siesta time is protected, but not here. It had been days since the schedule had allowed for dinner; we had worked and coached through many rest periods; schedules ran late, coaching sessions didn’t happen, chaos ensued.
But really, as my wise advisor said to me, the real source of the break down moment was, it was time for me to own my performance. Yes, true, I don’t really like to be told what to do, and therefore I don’t really like being “coached”; but I needed to be coached because I knew nothing, before this week, about singing in Spanish or about Spanish art song. That was, after all, my reason for coming to this festival. There is, however, a kind of passivity that occurs when you are in a studio setting that, well, makes me crazy. And that was where I was…if I was going to allow myself to be coached, I at least wanted one consistent set of information. And I really didn’t feel like being poked and prodded and turned upside down and sideways 5 hours before I had to perform. I was ready to walk out.
And so I cried and I screamed and I went to a café and had a big bowl of pasta (hoping that it would calm me down) and then went back to my room to get ready to head out to the concert hall. And while I was there, I came to a conclusion – I was just going to sing, and well, if they didn’t like it, well, they would just have to not like it.
So, armed with this new resolve, I packed up my gown, my makeup and my shoes and headed off in a taxi to the theatre.
Now, here is where the little moment of choice came into play. I had carefully written down the address of the theatre so that I could give it to the taxi driver. You see, I had only walked to the theatre before, because, well, I wasn’t performing those nights. It was a sizeable walk, and I simply wasn’t going to do it mid-afternoon in the Spanish heat with a suitcase in tow. But I didn’t quite pay attention when the cab driver let me out –only to look up and see that he had dropped me at the wrong Caja (I needed Caja RURAL Granada, he had dropped me at Caja Granada).
I had no idea where I was. I was sure that it was a sign from God that I was supposed to run, not sing, only not only could I not find the theatre, but I had no idea which direction to go to get back to the center of town.
The only landmark that I recognized was the giant tower of the Science Park, the one with the giant black ants crawling up the side. But I had no idea exactly where that tower stood in relationship to where I needed to be, and I was late.
So I walked first one direction – no sign of the theatre.
Then I walked another direction – again no sign of the theatre.
I was ready to leave. Clearly it was a sign.
And then, the voice in my head said – try it one more time. I looked up, and I remembered that the building I needed was all of black glass, and there it was a block in front of me. And I said, okay, I think this is it, but if it isn’t, I really am going back to the hotel.
It was it. It was the concert hall.
Two hours later, there I was on stage with Metropolitan Opera tenor Jose Manuel Zapata, singing (pretty well, I might add), on Spanish television.
It was a night that I might have missed, had I chosen to go back to the hotel. Instead, it is a night of music and art that I will treasure forever.
What out for those little seemingly insignificant choices. They might mean more than you think.