August 28, 2008
Vol. VIII, No. 9
"Survival of the Fittest"
Breathing accelerated. Pulse racing. Sweaty palms. Muscles twitching. Eyes darting back and forth. A nervous licking of the lips. Fight or flight?
Is that a description of a person caught in a life-threatening situation? It could just as easily describe someone ready to launch into the Toccata & Fugue in D Minor in front of audience. The reference to "fight or flight" rings a bell so I dig into the Rampage archives. Sure enough, I drag out a Rampage of the exact name:
"Fight or Flight" - January 5, 2003
I enjoy re-reading that Rampage because it's a good documentation of what it feels like to be in the thick of a performance. It captures some of the mental and emotional drama that isn't apparent to the audience and we as performers too quickly forget once the recital is over.
I enjoy reading Adventure magazine and on occasion come across an article that resonates with my performance experiences. I'm struck by the parallels between two activities so obviously different, surviving in the wild and surviving on the bench. This article from Laurence Gonzales called "How Hypersensitivity Can Save Your Life" may be a bit overwhelming for some folks but it helped me to see the common ground between primitive experience and the exhilaration of awareness that draws so many people to a life of performance.
"That vision of the world, that experience of elastic time and the minute texture of things, used to be part of our everyday existence. Today, most of us catch only the merest glimpses of what that world must have been like, but some of those glimpses are tantalizing."
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