This is Water – David Foster Wallace

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A friend of mine and lovely songwriter Dave Armo tried to turn me on to David Foster Wallace years ago in recommending the novel, ‘Infinite Jest.’  In true procrastinator fashion I bought the book but never made time to read it.  In my defense, I was warned that it was a challenging read and the size alone of the thing is enough to deter even those committed to the adventure.  Had I only known, or come across this video before the recommendation I might have gotten to the book sooner.

David Foster Wallace took his own life several years ago, but not before creating a prolific body of work which thankfully includes the commencement address in this video.  The struggle to remain present and ‘awake’ throughout our day to day lives is beautifully articulated here.  I take great inspiration in the thoughts he posits, particularly in the notion that in giving consideration to opposing or preconceived notions we can enhance our day to day existences.  While he doesn’t come out and say this directly in his address, it is my feeling that in a world such as we exist in today; filled with doubts about climate, violence and fear, if we took a moment to consider it would lead us to greater compassion for one another.  This in turn would open doors to acceptance, tolerance and love.  I don’t think that I’m alone in the notion that that would be a welcome addition to all of our day to day lives.

Inspiration from Brené Brown

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I have recommended this Tedx talk many times and when I thought about including it here I ended up watching it three times!  This talk is of particular importance to us as singers because of the importance of authenticity in our work.  When standing on stage, it is very apparent when we’re not committed to the music that we’re singing.  Furthermore, that lack of commitment presents additional difficulties in our vocal technique.  Our intentions, or lack thereof, are intertwined with our ability to sing well.  Our ability to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, empowers our authenticity; what courage that takes when stepping out onto a stage!  I use the word stage here to mean any public display, for some it’s Carnegie Hall, for others it’s the family dinner table, both are performances.  Ironic that one should wonder why performance anxiety (commonly called stage fright) exists.  It would be more accurate to wonder why it doesn’t exist in a given individual given the notion that to provide the authenticity required of us we open our hearts and display our most vulnerable side.