We are not born brave but life invites us to be brave. Bravery does not immediately spring to mind when one thinks about being a musician or even to living life in a developed country in the twenty first century! But, I think bravery is a quality right now that is being asked of me and many others at this particular time.
We normally associate bravery with action heroes and the daring feats of people in war or a natural disaster. But, there are other quieter forms of bravery that are just as valid and worthy of cultivation. Bravery is a quality we cultivate in developing resilience of mind, when we try something new, when we get up time and time again to fashion life into something positive and successful. Bravery is found when we successfully deal with difficult people and find a balanced way ahead. Being brave is taking a deep breath and keeping on, keeping on , being innovative or thoughtful in the face of adversity. It is like a muscle that we slowly develop that becomes habituated as we navigate life’s challenges. Being brave is a necessary part of being a growing and developing human.
As a singer song writer and a freelance music teacher I have to fashion my own path. Often I do not know what steps to take next: what to try, what will work. Uncertainty and a lack of clarity are the team mates that I have to make friends with! Covid has only made this tight rope dance even more wobbly. My teaching business is now operating at only a third of what it was before Covid and the government support (SEISS), stops operating and there is an immediate governmental assumption that businesses will instantly go back to how things were before march 2020.
Maybe this is the case for certain kinds of businesses but not a tiny one like mine. Singing/ music is something that many are still going to shy away from, particularly in groups and rightly so. Teaching online is best with older children and adults, for younger children or children with additional needs this form of learning is more off-putting than developmental.
Yet, music is something we all love and somehow needs to be kept alive and nurtured as a thing of enjoyment and also as a learning for the next generation. Music has already had a sorry time of it in schools up and down the country and now independent music teachers like myself are going to struggle to keep going. I see how much joy, development, cognitive development and social learning comes from a musical education. Sadly, only those whose parents have the means can access private music tutors and even these are going to become harder to find as post Covid lockdown life settles in and we all need to find a way to just put bread on the table.
Being brave though, extends to us all, not just those navigating uncertain and unpredictable career paths. The world we are living in is facing untold dangers with the environment and global disparity between rich and poor. We are not ostriches but people; and people are the one species who have the ability to be reflective and be lovingly compassionate. We often do not see these qualities in news reels or in the actions of our countries leaders but we are capable of these higher order thinking/feeling skills. Being brave is about developing these skills and creating strategies with these qualities embedded within them as we vision our futures, respond to disasters, deal with domestic and international tensions.
Being brave is one of the defining qualities that will determine our human trajectory as we move ahead : but, it has to be an informed bravery with consideration as it’s ally. In many ways my personal tightrope of work insecurity is a tiny model of what we are all facing on a larger more complex scale.
So, how will I successfully cross this tightrope and make it a career journey that can continue and has dignity and good sense within it? In truth, I humbly don’t know- because some of it is environmental…..will a gale knock me off….will I gain visibility and traction both as a teacher and an artist? All I can do is respond with thoughtfulness, creative innovation where I can and a spacious deep held breath as I forge my way ahead. Adaptability and determination whilst keeping a sense of humour will take me a long way. Learning from my errors and connecting with others who travel alongside me will mean the path can rise up to meet me more easily. Perhaps destination is not really the end game- although we find this a difficult concept in our western culture. Perhaps it is enough that the journey is one of bravery and growth.
I feel that this is of particular relevance to us women of the world whose working lives can be more fragmented and who also can live in societies where just to be a woman is to walk a difficult tight rope in life as a daily occurrence.
These thoughts have informed many a conversation with my youngest sister who works in the environmental sector and helps businesses fashion futures that have climate and the environment built into the heart of their strategies and development plans. We spent some time together recently and I wrote this song for us both to sing in harmony , which holds these thoughts at the heart of the song ( the river is both us and life itself):
The River and the Warrioress
I am the river
I am the warrioress
I dance with the flow of now
I step to the dance of becoming
Listening, watching, eager, dissolving
Awareness of each beat, beat, beat.
The warrioress in life
Flows with the patterns
adjusting her dance and her feet
Rooted to earth, she’ll sing to the moon
and fashion fire with her speech.
We are the river
eternal and luminescent flow
wild and unnamable, hypnotic and soothing
A journey to shock and surprise
Delighting and scouring each beat.
We are the river, we are the Warrioress
We stand with backs firm on our feet.
Our gaze will quest and grow with life’s unpredictable flow
And our hearts will love, wild, fierce, true
Our hearts will love wild, fierce and true.
So, onwards and upwards on the tightrope of life….!!