Watching the Winter Olympics this week has been a tremendously inspiring experience. I am not a world class athlete (never will be). I am not a world class guitarist (maybe someday). However, in a very small way I can relate to the athlete's intense preparation, the complex psychology, the emotional extremes, the personal triumphs and failures, the plateaus, and the elation that comes with achieving your goals. I mean, who can't? If you are involved in a job, activity, sport, something that you are remotely passionate about, you can relate.
This coming weekend is my CD release concert. Sure, by direct comparison, it is an embarrassingly minor event, but, no matter how small scale a show may be, in my mind, I am always preparing for the biggest concert; my title match, my Grand Slam event, my Olympics. This is how I push myself to stay sharp and hopefully improve along the way. It helps bring the mind and body into proper focus and to ready myself for a performance of the highest standard. On the lighter side, at least I don't have to wait another 4 years to try again and I have not sacrificed a virtual lifetime for one ultimate attempt. I mean, I will get another shot next week at my cafe gig right?
I have always been pretty much a lone wolf, attracted to the more independent sports: track, boxing, tennis, golf, skiing, you know, the basic one-on-one, mano-a-mano stuff, you against the other guy, and perhaps, even more so, you against yourself. As a performer, and a self-diagnosed head case, various applications of sports psychology are particularly useful in combating the potential influx of internal turmoil that can come into play just prior to a concert.
After her gold medal winning downhill event, Lindsey Vonn described how she wasn't nervous, that she was able to empty her mind, be brave, and was able to just go for it. She had prepared properly and she was ready. Before his super fights, Sugar Ray Leonard always said to himself, "Just be the man. Be. The. Man." And he was. Prior to the Miracle on Ice, Herb Brooks, pumping up team USA for their infamous hockey game against the USSR, said (paraphrasing), "Screw 'em!(referring to the almighty USSR team)This is YOUR time! Now go out and take it!" In other words, all insecurities do not count right now, they are not allowed, they must be banished, and, you almost have to trick yourself (at least I do) at that moment, just when you are about to hit the stage, you are the best. You must believe this. If you are well prepared, then your mind, body, and hence, the music, will respond. To me, that's a powerful way to launch into a solo guitar performance.
And so, here it is, the final stretch, the final week of practice. My tunes are tweaked, the set list is complete, and I am ready. On Sunday, I will step into the ring in quest of that elusive world title, that Grand Slam victory, that Olympic gold medal. This is my time.