The first time I performed a concert in front of a live audience, I was terrified. My hands were shaking so uncontrollably that I could barely form the proper finger positions to play the guitar chords. And I had a solo coming up in about two minutes; there was no way I was going to be able to play it.
The bass player / lead singer looked over at me, and he could see the terror in my eyes. He was probably thinking of some sort of a contingency plan should I freeze up. And right before the solo, I completely forgot the notes about to be played. Am I supposed to start on the 10th or 12th fret? What will happen if I ruin this solo?
There’s an adage in the entrepreneurial startup world that suggests throwing your business plan out the window as soon as your company meets the real world. In other words, you can do all the planning you want, but once you get out into the market, what matters most is how quickly you can adapt to the dynamics of industry.
Performing in front of a live audience is similar. Practice and planning can make a big difference, but once you’re “on stage” you are challenged to adapt to the realities of the environment. Including, possibly, totally blanking on what note to play next.
And this is what makes learning and practicing a spirituality like A Course in Miracles so challenging. While we can read the book thoroughly, diligently perform each lesson, deeply understand the metaphysics, and listen to glorious lectures from Ken Wapnick while sensing his incredibly loving, non-judgmental presence – at some point, we need to step on the stage.
And very often, that “stage” (ie., our life) can be terrifying.
So much so that everything we learned, everything we practiced goes right out the window.
But does it really?
In truth, nothing we practiced has been lost. We have simply, temporarily, lost our awareness of it. Nothing more. And a wonderful aspect of awareness is that we have complete control over where we place it.
When our perception has aligned with ego thoughts, then we experience myriad forms producing negative emotions – anything that can induce us to fear, sadness, shame, or panic, such as freezing up prior to the start of a guitar solo.
An incredibly comforting line from The Happy Dream section of A Course in Miracles reads, “Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success.” (T-18.V.1)
With our ego, we really have no guide for judgment. But, thankfully, we can choose instead to place our awareness with the mind of spirit. And when we do, every practice session emerges into presence. In that moment we’ve rejoined with what the course refers to as our “silver miracles and golden dreams of happiness.” What we had previously considered to be “failures” now gently embrace and elevate us on our spiritual journey.
The stage we call “our life” is transformed from a paralyzing prison into a growth-inspiring classroom. Each experience an opportunity for learning and blossoming, for shedding the debilitating clutches of fear. In this state, our inner voice radiates outward in an all-inclusive sphere of love and peace. Every Course lesson harmonizing with each step we take.
Join me in Thursday’s Zoom discussion where we’ll dig deeper into this transformative process of spiritual growth. And I’ll share exactly what transpired during my precipitous guitar solo. I look forward to seeing you then.