Ambition, results, anxiety and ego motivated me. Made me push harder, stay open 24 hours. I believe these are the shadows of desire, growth, intention and distrust. Moving like this made me feel good. Feel like I was making things happen. I loved telling people how busy I was and how they could call me anytime. I suffered exhaustion, damaged my vocal chords and lost contact with people I truly cared about. I know these characteristics are part of my nature as a human being but I also know they are all killers. Killers of truth, Killers of purpose, Killers of perspective. When I couldn’t sing anymore I took some time off to rest and learned I was off the beat.
A few years ago, I had an experience with a festival that threaded me down to my innermost essence and I remembered the purpose of this work. I sang to a crowd of 15 whole people, festival vendors and other artists booked to perform. Not a soul showed up for the “huge” festival…I thought the promoter would tell us all to go home… he didn’t. I wrestled with it. I thought to leave. The diva in me felt disrespected. I felt like going home since there was no “audience.” I caught myself in this thought and was suddenly washed with shame. I stopped myself and performed for who was there. I sang for the people, for us and realized often my performances are not about what “I” was about. My ego was standing in for my good sense and understanding. My music was about the work. At that moment it was about the people who were there and no one else. I sang songs that were from the diaspora and made us feel like one.
Afterward, I realized I had kinda lost my way. Being business minded and not centered on my work, on the calling, distracted me from my purpose. How many opportunities have I missed to spread love, spread hope, spread health? How many times had I let me eyes deceive me and lead me astray from my work? I’d lost touch with the purpose. I needed to get back to nursing, healing, THAT was the point. I gave all I had to the people who were there and went home feeling full. Feeling whole and purposed because I was no longer on the same path that led me to a bruised ego and anxiety. The same path that led me to using my power for career growth and not for personal and communal growth. While my ego is a valid and natural part of my being, it can not lead. While my desire to see results is warranted, it can not define my current state of being. I have to rise above. I must eat and make a home for my family but I must also do as much healing as possible. I truly have to balance both. This blessed lesson was given to me from a festival with no audience, just 15 smiling faces.