To reveal The One Who Sings.
photo credit: Simon Barnes
“ Even the raven started out in human form, and he fumbled blindly, and his actions were haphazard until it was revealed to him who he was and what his purpose was.”
- Arctic Creation Myth from Miss Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg
Today in conversation with a new friend I described myself as a performer. Then, feeling uncomfortable in the wake of this statement, I turned it over and over until I realised that I no longer identify as such. As a performer.
I've been a tremendous performer for nearly four decades... from the moment I first discovered that certain emotions would earn me more favourable attention from the adults I depended on for my survival. I learned to perform the inobtrusive dance of Acceptability for my caretakers at home, at school and elsewhere in life.
I then learnt I had a talent for performing Confidence on debate teams and in public speaking - a confidence I in no way felt but somehow embodied convincingly on the stage. I discovered that I could perform Other People's Lives ... literally taking on the stories of others when I began acting in high school plays. In my early 20's; like a seal pup to ice water, I danced the dance of the Consummate Performer at the head of the super-group Freshlyground (FG). This was my zenith as the performer who was known as Zolani Mahola.
photo credit: Inka Kenzia
For nearly two decades, at the head of that excellent machine FG, I performed my Inner Feelings - those buried deep inside me. Feelings that I had never allowed myself to feel. These feelings I called to the surface at a melody's notice, I shook them violently to the beat of the machine, I opened my gnashing teeth and dropped the bloody feelings tidily at the feet of my audience. Night after night I performed my inner life, presenting my kill to the audience. Begging them to give me the acceptance and validation I so desperately hungered for.
Always an audience, you see. I couldn't feel real without one.
I remember washing dishes as a 10 year old in New Brighton, singing Whitney Houston and Boyz 2 Men songs to the imaginary audience. Long before the advent of reality TV I was aware of the outside observer who would see me and in the seeing of me make me real.
I don't want that anymore.
I don't need that anymore.
Now I want to write and sing for me. I want to learn how to dance for me. To sit in silence with me. To light fires only I will feel the warmth of and whisper to myself secrets only I will ever hear.
So I am dissolving Zolani Mahola for a spell. So I can find out who sits there at my essence. Is it The One Who Sings?
Is s/he all of me?
Is s/he the deepest truest part of me?
I don't know the full story but for now all the voices in my being whisper in harmony:
... yes to The One Who Sings".
And so, my friends, I aim to write and sing and move from that place. Not to please you, not to present to you and not to perform for you. But to experience myself and to let you in on the journey as it unfolds. My journey. Your journey. Our journey. May it be deep and wide.
With all that is hopeful in me to all that is sacred in you.
Remember Who You Are