Don’t judge me for my artwork. My mind was a bit of a blank this week as I considered what I wanted to post about. As sometimes happens, I’m mining my week’s experiences for a theme and coming up empty, when suddenly something someone says gives me the clue I’ve been waiting for and I make the connection between singing and life. So it was this week. It was during my first session with a new therapist this morning that the title for today’s post became clear.
My therapist said to me, “you have clearly experienced a lot of loss, but there is much you have gained; there has also been an awakening.” Without going into a whole lot of TMI-style personal detail, the recent loss of a dear friend and mentor to cancer, the imminent loss of another friend to the same disease, the end of my 30-year marriage in 2019 (about which I grieved heavily for over a year, and still do to some degree), and the death of my father by suicide at the age of 14; all of these have shaped me and my singing life. And at the same time, they have allowed me to grow in many ways, to step into my truest self. They have pumiced and broken me, but also built me back stronger and better. I have more to share as an artist and human as a result of these losses. My losses have been my gain.
This has also come up in encounters with students this week. One of them, who is working with me for the first time, has been struggling with this concept of loss too. I want to encourage her–she is on the cusp of something big, a huge discovery for herself–but she doesn’t yet quite trust the process, or truly trust me (although I know she wants to!) I know that this journey will be halting and painful at first, and that there will be losses–the loss of old ways and patterns that are no longer useful, the loss of the sense of innocence and naïveté. But the gains will be monumental: agency, empowerment, creativity, freedom. Still, we all have to be on our own journey. We all have to go through the dark nights of the soul, the questioning, the Quest. If we allow it, many times what feels like the deepest, most painful loss can be our greatest gain.