Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Soaring for seven minutes and seven seconds

We all have those low points, right? A moment that says reminds us that yes, we’re all flawed human beings. That tells us we all have our foul-ups and moments of insecurity and fear. That we are all not genetic specimens of perfection. That’s the not so pleasant moment of connection we all share.

But surprisingly, most surprisingly in fact, we all have our gifts, our abilities, our talents and unique characteristics. All most of us probably need just one chance to share them with others. We need just one person to appreciate what we’re offering; and that could be exactly what we need to press on, to continue to try.

Many of us never take that chance – we spend most of our time reminding ourselves of the following: what simply can’t be done; what won’t ever happen and in fact, even if we ignore the fear and uncertainly that holds many of us back from even trying, what probably wouldn’t ever work out even if it were to happen.

Very rarely do you find a moment that seems to connect millions of disparate people. Then – along comes someone like Susan Boyle. And everything we’ve ever believed about chances and opportunities and harboring a philosophy that claims, “the world is against me” starts to fade away. In about seven minutes, Susan embodied the moment we all hold secretly in our hearts: that given the chance, we, too, could show the world what we truly are.

It’s almost as if she’ll become a phrase that describes the moment everyone fears and then overcomes in triumph. As in: “I had a Susan Boyle moment during the presentation.” “Sure, it was nerve-wracking but then I got all Susan Boyle about it and it went very well.” Q: “How did it go?” A.: “Great! Any better and I would have been Susan Boyle herself.”

The reality is that the majority of us will never stand in front of a panel of judges and astonish them with our ability. We will never take a theater by surprise by shaking the rafters with our melodic voices. So where does that leave us?

For me, I find myself here: why not try? Why not banish all the demons that tell me why I shouldn’t even bother, why it won’t work out, how I won’t ever succeed, and why the odds are certainly not in my favor? I’m positive everyone who loves Susan was more than a little concerned about the chance she took, putting herself out there for the judges and the audience to see. Some of them may have even shared their concerns with her.

Ultimately, she didn’t care. She did it anyway. And she soared. For those seven minutes, she absolutely soared.

I’d love to have those seven minutes in my own life, too. And there is one person who can try to make that happen: me. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not nearly misguided enough to believe that all I have to do is try and believe and think positively and voila! It will all come true. But refusing to try won’t work either.

Thanks Susan. You have inspired millions. Next time the voice in my head tells me, “Don’t bother. It will not work out,” I’ll think of you. And tell myself this: it worked out for Susan. It may work out for me, too.


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness someone finally gets it.

Everyone is so hung up on how she "looked" that they forget to realize that if it was just looks - people would not be listening to the thing over and over again on YouTube.

The dichotomy between the expectation and the performance could not be the sole factor in that response.

What matters is that she performed. She was resolute in that interview "I am going to make that audience rock!". She poured emotion into her performance and great ART coveys EMOTION.

It was a given that in so doing she would affect the listener.

The greater question is where did such confidence come from? By all accounts she was beaten down by life on every step of the way. There was nothing to make her think she would succeed save her own steadfast belief.

Remember she in the interview said she had been pursuing this dream since she was 12. By 48, most people would have tossed aside such dreams. There were so many reasons to believe those dreams were no longer hers to have - whether looks or age or experience...

But she stood up and demanded the chance and given the chance she did indeed soar.

It wasn't whether she was pretty or plain that should matter, but instead that when everything in the world seemed to tell her she couldn't and years upon years conspired to keep her from those dreams - she found those dreams anyway.

There is something magical in watching someone kiss their dreams and you could see it happen on that stage at that moment.

I think that is one of the many things that keep people coming back to watch that moment - now if we could all learn to do the same with our own dreams, we would all have been given an amazing gift by that moment.

renee said...

Thank you!

Your reply overwhelmed me.

I agree with you. The almost six million people who have viewed that You Tube video did so for exactly one reason: to share a small part of the triumph Susan seems to richly deserve.

Her resolute determination to "make it so" is astonishing. And inspiring. And, frankly, in short supply these days, when we are all looking for the easy way, the "entitlement" to whatever we all believe we deserve.

The only thing that will ruin this will be the book publisher who wants to "crash" her book, to sell her message of "inspiration" and "motivation." Please. You know it's in the works.

I hope she turns them down.

Anonymous said...

Everyone to whom I forwarded the YouTube link admitted to crying like a baby and feeling incredibly uplifted by Susan Boyle's performance. I usually don't watch these TV talent shows, including American Idol, b/c they always sprinkle the serious talent with people who should never have passed the audition stage, for the sole purpose of entertainment - that is, the entertainment value of allowing the audience to make fun of someone else and feel superior for a little while. Based on the expressions caught on camera of Simon and several audience members, the viewing audience must have expected that this would be one of those moments. It was far from it.

I have always told my daughter, who is now a teenager, that she should pursue her dreams, regardless of what other say. Even so, I wonder if Susan's mother might have told her that when she was a teen, and then gently admended that advice as the years wore on. Or maybe her mother was the one who continued to encourage her, or at least instilled that attitude of perseverence in Susan so she truly never gave up.

I seem to remember another contestant on one of these British talent shows who also surprised the world with his performance. He was a cell phone salesman who sang opera. Kind of restores my faith in my fellow humans when Everyman gets his/her chance to shine. But ultimately, it has more to say about them than about us.

renee said...

Like you, I don't watch these shows. I've never seen an episode of American Idol which makes me something of a freak I think.

You're absolutely right - this collective experience does say more about our own prejudice and judgements than it does about the person in question.

I think about concepts like "talent" and realize it is subjective to a large degree. No one can argue the 'success' of a Bob Dylan but almost everyone can agree his vocal ability is a bit lacking. Does that mean he lacks talent? Not quite - he has appealed to millions based on the entire 'package' he brings to the table. His voice is the least of it in fact.

Maybe everyone "appearing" on shows like this should perform from behind a curtain - and have their song be heard only - and then judged. That would be interesting. Maybe there are more Susan's out there than anyone could imagine.

Thank you for your comment!