Ever have something happen that didn’t even register at the moment, and then later got under your skin?
The other day I told someone I was a dance swing in a certain show, and the reply was, “Oh, well that explains it. You’re a dancer.”
I don’t have a big voice. I learned that in junior high, when I started singing in choir like it was my job. In high school and college, it got stronger, but no bigger. Then when I became a teacher it gained an authoritative quality, but it still stayed the same size. Got to NYC, more training, more depth, but still small. I’m okay with all this.
During Cowgirls rehearsal, this became the note that I received the most. Can’t hear you, push volume, louder louder louder… And so I did, and it got better. But I got to thinking one day, that my literally small voice also is a little figurative.
I’ve never been the girl shouting opinions. When I’m around folks who like to talk, I prefer to listen, rather than try to get a word in edgewise. I don’t like to yell to be heard. And I fully subscribe to the notion that just because you’re screaming, doesn’t mean anyone is listening. So I save my ideas and my voice for the times when there’s constructive communication happening.
Do I have opinions? You betcha. Are they strong? Stronger than you’d think, if you’re judging my book by its cover. But I think that opinions can be valid, whether they’re shouted from a rooftop or softly voiced from across the table.
Truth be told, there’s never a day that I don’t miss California. And when I’m not in New York, ditto for the city. But I have to admit, it’s been a little bit nice to spend some time in a part of the country where the specialty is being cordial. Life in Montgomery may settle somewhere a little quieter and slower than I tend to like it, but every single person I’ve come across here has seemed genuinely kind. And that’s not something you can say for every place you visit.
There’s a sweet elderly man at the gym, who I worked out next to every morning while we were in rehearsals. After a few days of elliptical training next to each other, he turned to me and said, “You’re getting to be a regular here,” and smiled. And went on about his business. A few days later, when I brought a new book to read, he noticed and commented. No fuss, no muss, no lengthy chatter. Just a kind acknowledgment of another person’s existence. Which is nice.
In the city, people thrive on anonymity. If you meet someone’s eye, you’re expected to look away immediately. And heaven forbid you actually let the corners of your mouth creep up into a smile; you’ll instantly be labeled as either crazy or dangerous.
But in a place like this, it’s nice to settle into a routine of recognizing the people around you and honoring their presence with a simple hello.
Have you ever come across one of those people who seems to be magic? And they live their lives with such passion and love and total abandon that you just get willingly sucked right into their whirlwind of joy? And they make you feel like you can do it too, and some of their joy gets rubbed off on you, and for a while, you are invincible — you are kinder, happier, luckier, more peaceful in who you are, find the good in more things, walk with a bounce in your step, and on and on. And then maybe you don’t see them for a while and it fades, but you know that it’s there somewhere, if you can just try to find it again.
The thing is, I want to be my own magic person. I want to be able to find that feeling, and help other people feel it, and make the world better by spreading it all around. I feel it, right at the end of my fingertips, vibrating like it’s tempting me to come and get it. It sparks up sometimes, and I feel all my feelings and I live in them, and I sing, and I pray (which sometimes are the same thing), and it’s the best feeling ever.
And I think everyone is secretly a magic person. I think it’s just a matter of realizing it, and that actually takes practice. Practice! Huh.
So that’s one of my new goals. Practice joy. Cultivate love. Be magic. xoxo
So we’re here in Alabama, doing Cowgirls. And there’s a part in the show where I’m in an office for an extended period of time, allegedly working on a breakdown of some numbers, and using a calculator to do so. Tonight, I was going through the motions, and I was punching in the number 7,493.21. And for some reason, my finger reached for some unknown button after the 7, trying to find a comma. And immediately, I was catapulted back in my mind, to my Dad teaching me to use a calculator. I had always assumed, before I used one, that there would be a button for a comma. Because how else would you tell the calculator that the number you were about to type in would be more than 999? My little 8-year-old self was shocked and amazed to learn that calculators put the commas in for you.
And this is what I was thinking about while I was supposed to be acting.
Last night, June 8, 2010, at ll:43 p.m., Blueberry decided to make her entrance! What a sneaky little kiddo — four days early, and upside-down. But momma and baby are happy, healthy, and already surrounded by lots of love and family. I wish more than anything I could be there.
Funny how powerful babies are — they make sisters into aunts, dads into grandpas, moms into grammies, and two regular people into mama and daddy. Our lives flipped upside down last night, in quite possibly the best way imaginable.
Paige Camille Baker. 7 lbs, 15 oz of wonderfulness and love.