It happened again the other night. I fell in love with Joanna Newsom when I saw her play live. Ms Newsom sounds like the love-child of Kate Bush and a Gelfling from the movie The Dark Crystal. And she plays the harp. As she tickled my ear drums, I silently cursed my own idiocy for not spending the entirety of my youth mastering the harp and learning to sing. Why didn’t I just focus?! … If I’m honest I also fell in love with her violinist, and with her drummer.
It happens all the time. I fall in love with other people’s amazing talents and quietly bemoan my own averageness. “I excel at the mundane” I’ll think as I frown at myself. I’m the master of hospital-corners on my bed sheets. I’m a virtuoso with find-a-words. I’m gifted in the area of light chit chat. Groan. I’ll see a ballet and the child inside will whinge that I should have stuck with the dance lessons despite my teachers assurances that I was, and I quote, “Awful”. When I went to the circus last year I planned to take a 12 month course in the arts of trapeze and contortion. After I watched the movie 8 Mile, I vowed to become a rapper immediately as the credits rolled.
In truth I have exhausted many hours imagining myself in front of a crowded stadium, panting for breath, as I bow before an adoring audience who cheers and claps my stirring portrayal of Lady Macbeth. Or, my magical rendition of Tchaikovsky‘s piano concerto. Or, my scintillating delivery of world-changing performance poetry. I have spent just as many hours wondering how I’ve managed to waste my thirty-something years of life not making these daydreams a reality. What have I been doing?
Today however, as I dropped my fork at lunch and managed to catch it just in time before it hit the ground, I heard something fabulous in my head. A stadium audience inside my scull cheering and applauding my catch. As I held that fork-that-hadn’t-touched-the-ground, I felt just as proud as any footballer possibly could after a winning goal. The crowd in my head loved it. I grinned uncontrollably.
When I got to the station after lunch I arrived on the platform just in time to see my train roll in, and I was able to walk straight onto it. The crowd went wild. When I had the exact change for my newspaper the adoring fans went bizerk.
Erma Bombeck once said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” … I don’t believe in God, but I have come to realise that there’s a lot to be said for celebrating what you’ve been given. Sure, I may not move people to tears in a concert hall, but I really can drink a daiquiri with some pizazz. I can’t hit a tennis ball to save myself, and I’ll never be a world-class figure skater, but, when the lights change to green on my approach it feels, just for a moment, like the world is actually revolving around me. That crowd full of fans may be imaginary, but they’re loud as hell at times. Maybe no one else can hear them, and that’s fine, but they’re delightfully easy to please. And they help so much when it comes to celebrating the tiny victories. I plan to sneak a curtsy in the very next time they cheer. It’d be rude not to.