lead role

all eyes upon me,
the stage is mine — music cues
an aria — but
I have nothing to offer
except my bewilderment

Bluster and trying to put on an act of competency, has been a trick I learned — I would say it’s almost become a habit — in the last ten years of working for a living for the first time in my life. A much more deeply ingrained habit, is to meet the world’s expectations with nothing except whatever I am. In my dream I was on stage, apparently about to sing a baritone aria in the middle of Puccini’s opera Tosca. Unfortunately I had nothing in my head at all, by way of notes or words or tunes, that I could sing. Yesterday I witnessed a virtuoso performance by Dolly Sen, talking about her experience of hearing voices to an audience of some fifty people at an event organised by the National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum. There seems to be considerable anxiety, for me, around public speaking without notes. I have tried it once or twice, but at the moment, I do better clutching my script. Probably advisable, given the situation in the dream! I’m intrigued by the echo (which was unintentional) of Oscar Wilde’s witticism when passing through Customs: I have nothing to declare except my genius. But come to think, although I myself have nothing of Wilde’s genius for comedy, Dolly has.

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