Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Thursday, March 14, 2013

(Inner) Peace Initiative

     My friend Mike posted this picture of StoneKracker, my former band for any newbies out there, the other day on Facebook:

     The picture was taken during pre-show rituals where we center ourselves and get ready to get out on stage and, well, "kill it."  What struck me was the look on my face.  See that?  That's utter and total peace.

    Utter and total peace is not at all what I had last Saturday night when Eric and I performed together, using the StoneKracker moniker, for the first time in ten years.  I felt a nervousness I don't think I've felt since the first time we played the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX in 2001.   For the first time I understood why.

    I'm not gonna lie, and I haven't here yet, but I used to drink...a lot!  It was the only way I could get on stage to be quite honest.  But, like anyone with any kind of alcoholic tendencies, there was some sort of underlying reason as to why I needed that "liquid courage."  The funny thing is that I rarely drank any other time. I don't even drink with meals.  I find the taste of beer or wine with food kind of gross for lack of a better term.  So, I'm guessing you would think, "Okay; you must not feel confident in your vocal abilities.  That's why you had to drink."  Sure, but why didn't I feel confident?  I always received high honors in competitions in high school.  I can't tell you all the choirs I participated in that I had to audition for...what is it.  Somewhere about 3:00 in the afternoon that Saturday, it came out...along with tears.

   "But I was never the best," I explained to my husband, "I always lost the solos.  There was this girl named..."

    I never thought or believed I was good enough.  I am fully aware that I am no Kelly Clarkson.  I come from the marriage of an opera singer to a person who was tone deaf.  I was never going to be Mariah Carey.  Somewhere in my heart I believed, because I was never going to be Beyonce', that I didn't have the right to be anything else.  Sure, my biological mother had something to do with this too, always telling me I'd never be good enough, so it was surprising that all the things I had lost singing along the way were what was bothering me.  I think the thing with my Mom was so fully reconciled that this was all that was left.

    So, as I stared at the picture Mike posted, I said to myself, "Where was that Saturday night?"  The answer is, in a bottle.  StoneKracker did help my esteem a lot, make no mistake.  We played actually three SXSW Festivals and on two Warped Tours and won accolade after accolade, but I guess it's not enough when you believe, deep down, you are a fraud.

     How do I get out of the bottle?  How do I find that peace naturally?  What about the other areas of my life that still make me nervous, or angry, or vengeful?  What do I do about those?

    There is this group I found online called The Peace Initiative.  The aim of the peace initiative "is to help young children in conflicted societies around the world learn to respect differences and change their behavior through media and school curricula developed through local in-country partnerships." Sometimes, I still feel like I am walking around with this young child soul deep inside my being that just doesn't understand what the realities really are about a situation.  That's how I feel when something I am not at peace with pops up.  It's like I can't see the truth of an event; only my immediate reaction to it.  Maybe there are "differences" I need to respect and accept that one is not necessarily better than the other.  Simply just different.  There is a certain peace to that isn't there? Besides, not everyone is looking to see Kelly Clarkson...

     There are so many more things I can apply this thinking to. Maybe it's time to start an "inner" peace initiative...

      ...I will respect that I am different than Kelly Clarkson... and that difference is totally and wholly me...and wonderful.

Happy Fishing!