Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gratitude, in spades

The other morning, I was feeling a little annoyed. I had just discovered that an opera company was doing a production I've been in before somewhere else, but they had already cast my role. I was also dealing with some scheduling problems that have yet to resolve themselves, and I started to feel that icky, "I have no control over my life" feeling that often creeps up on those of us who are trying to fashion a career out of being an artist. Luckily, I had my friend Nick around, and he thought it would be a good idea to drag me on a hike in the mountains of Portland. Now, people; I don't hike. My poor dad was always trying to get me to appreciate the beauty of nature since we had an incredible state park practically in our backyard where I grew up in California, but I was always more interested in learning how to shuffle off to buffalo or listening to the soundtrack to "Les Mis" than convening with nature. And while I can absolutely appreciate the beauty and majesty of the outdoors now that I'm an adult, I would probably rather spend my afternoon getting a pedicure if I really had the choice. But Nick has been wanting to go hiking since we arrived, and I do love him, so I agreed to go.

As we were hiking the (extremely mountainous and muddy) trails, I was telling him about my career frustrations of that morning, and how easy it was to get into a spiral of "why am I not singing at xxx company???" if you let yourself go there. "Yes, Jenny, but what are you grateful for? Maybe it's time to start listing all the reasons why you are incredibly lucky, and all the things that make your life special." And there, among the beautiful, astoundingly green (because it rains all the time) trees and pathways, I started listing why I was, in fact, ridiculously lucky. Our conversation went like this:
Me:"Well, the point of life is to find your bliss right?" Him: "I should hope so". Me "Well, the truth is, sometimes I get frustrated by the fact that I'm not singing at the Met for example - but if I were singing at the Met, I wouldn't necessarily have had this experience here in Portland. And this experience in Portland has been sheer bliss - everything about it has made me happy and fulfilled. And if I were singing at the Met, I wouldn't necessarily be happier - in fact, I'd almost certainly be more stressed and freaked out, and less happy than I am at this moment. So what I'm grateful for is that I have the opportunity to work as a singer, have artistic satisfaction, AND actually get to be happy and enjoy myself. So the real question is, what the !@#$ do I actually have to complain about? NOTHING." And then I turned the camera on him:

And it's true. Life is much too short to sweat what you don't have, especially when your life is an embarrassment of riches, which for most of us, it truly is. Definitely for me. I'm grateful for it all - including the fact that I have friends who remind me to remember what's important. And you know what? I'm grateful we took that hike. I actually enjoyed it tremendously. Go figure.


Unknown said...

The great thing about hiking in Portland as opposed to upstate NY is that you don't have to worry so much about the damed tics. This was a lovely blog and I loved the video.

Anonymous said...

You are very good at keeping things in perspective, Jennifer! As far as casting questions, I always say: follow the agency trail. It can usually, though not always, reveal quite a bit about the who/what/why of things. Most of the time the decision isn't against you per se, it's just something that took precedence over the idea of using you, for whatever reason. You are a wonderful talent with a beautiful voice, so you will get where you wish to go at some point for sure, no worries.

Anonymous said...

Hiking clears the mind. You can do it in NYC, too - but you have to just call it "taking a walk," or people will think you're being pretentious... :-)