Showing up is the most critical part of any creative endeavor. If you don’t know what I mean by showing up then I’ll tell you, it’s not very complicated.
Showing up means that when you do something, you’re there to do just that thing. You can call it deep focus or presence of mind but it means when you practice, you practice, and when you perform, you perform. That actually is relatively simple, but it’s not always easy.
How often do we sit down to practice only to be distracted by something on our phone or computer screen? Or even more often, the wandering thoughts of our own mind? You can show up to practice one moment and the next be consumed by seemingly random thoughts, pulling you farther and farther from what you originally set out to do.
It’s no easier in a performance. If you’re like most people your mind is wrapped up in thoughts of self-doubt, nervousness, stage-fright, any number of defense mechanisms trying to prevent you from embarrassing yourself, even though you’ve prepared for weeks, months, or even years. Maybe the first song went really well and you’re thinking you might get out of this gig alive, but all it takes is one mistake to set ourselves down that path of self-doubt again. I know from experience that one single moment can ruin an entire concert, if you let it.
It’s okay that it’s hard. It actually makes sense that it’s hard. Each moment is completely new and requires brand new enrollment from you. Showing up to one moment doesn’t give you the tools to deal with the next one. You’re going to have to show up over and over again. It’s going to feel really tedious and really frustrating because your brain probably isn’t used to really focusing on the task at hand. But it’s your life! What else are you going to show up to? Are the feelings of self-doubt or fantasy really a better show?
So start showing up more, that’s what I’m trying to do. I do it as often as I can and right now that’s not much. But it’s a lot more than I used to, and it makes me want to do it even more than that.