Saturday, July 7, 2018

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, July 7, 2018 - Nine Hours Drive to Antarctica

I used to sing on cruise ships. Not just sing, but dance as well, God help me. But that was part of the gig, so I did it. I made it through six weeks of exhausting rehearsals in the studio at Barry Manilow’s production company, Stiletto Entertainment in Los Angeles. Great company, nice people. Still don’t like dancing. And every single syllable of every song we sang had a dance step. I had to practice every morning at 5am on my own in the mirrors at the gym in actor housing before rehearsal just to keep up.
Among the other six production shows we learned simultaneously for the passengers, I actually played the part of Tony in a cruise ship version of the stage musical Copacabana based on Manilow’s 1978 iconic hit song by the same name. Ruffled shirtsleeves and all. Oh yes, that too was part of the gig.
I liked being on stage well enough, but it was the singing I truly loved. I love to sing big songs, quiet songs, songs with meaning. I feel the same when I give a Sunday message. It’s all about how the sung or spoken word offers a multi-dimensional vibratory experience of a single thought for an audience who hears it in person. That’s when I feel like I’m truly following my path. Sometimes ruffled shirts and dancing come with the territory. Grin and bear it.
The flights from LA to meet up with our ship in Rio de Janeiro took all night and some of the next day, changing planes in New York for the last leg to South America. We arrived on Valentine’s Day. Carnival had just ended the day before. They were still cleaning up the streets.
My unwindowed inside crew cabin was more of a womb, really. And apparently we were fraternal twins because I had a roommate. He was nice, but you really don’t know tiny living until you’ve roomed with a show dancer on board a cruise ship. However, it was also part of the gig. I didn’t complain about it. I just accepted it and allowed it to be part of the experience. Mostly.
I didn’t complain much about the dancing either. When I finally learned the steps it wasn’t so bad. Sometimes it was fairly thrilling when I got it right. It made me feel accomplished. I enjoyed the compliments when people said I looked like I knew what I was doing. I didn’t believe them, of course, but I liked it.
Then you step out to the rail of that ship at sunset. And you know why you went through so much just to sing a few songs. And just maybe you’ll see the rare and mythic green flash as the sun dips below the horizon. Perhaps you’ll sip champagne as you round Cape Horn in hours instead of the weeks it took our ancestors.
If you’re lucky, you’ll sip tea in Ushuaia, Argentina looking south and imagine the coast of Antarctica only 620 miles away. That’s as far as it is from my house to Akron, Ohio. I could drive there in a day if I wanted.
Singing brought me there. It delivered me 6,700 miles from where I grew up and handed me a cup of tea. But it’s not really correct to say it was singing which did it. I can sing anywhere. I wanted to see the world. I needed fortitude and courage to make a journey of it. I needed to exhibit grace as I struggled. How much grace do we exhibit in our struggles? Sometimes I wasn’t graceful at all. Sometimes I was.
I pushed my boundaries only a little and was rewarded so much. I didn’t suffer true hardship, of course. These are all very much first world problems I’m describing here. The point is that we shrug away opportunity because of our discomfort with inconvenience. Which is itself a mask over our fear of failure. Don't let it win.
The best opportunity to understand our relationship with God, with the earth, with each other, with ourselves, frankly, comes when we put our faith in the goal and pay attention to what we experience on the path. Maintain grace as you challenge yourself. Assume you’ll make it, and leap. You never know, it might change your life.