I remember once I was watching my niece in a dance club performance. They were all doing some pre practiced dance moves that was choreographed to a popular musical number. In case they forgot their steps, their was a giant dancing bear on stage to follow for guidance. They were three and four years old, and the dancing bear, or the person dressed in the dancing bear costume, was eleven.
They had these ornamental neck wrap necklace things. I’m sure here is a technical name for it, but since I’m not that into three year old dance fashion, I’m not really sure what it is. It is kind of a long, frilly decorative thing that you loosely wrap around your neck, and it is supposed to enhance your dancing movies by trailing from behind.
What happened was that this girl stepped on her trailing frilly thing, and in the process knocked her stool over. Of course she naturally bent down, picked her stool up, and re wrapped the frilly thing back around her neck so that it wouldn’t happen again. And looked around at her friends, and once or twice at the dancing bear, and she was back in sync again with all the rest of the kids.
And then a thought struck me. She hadn’t yet learned that you are supposed to be nervous on stage. She hadn’t yet learned that you are supposed to be self conscious, and dream up a bazillion terrible things that can happen whenever you are standing up and talking or performing for other people. She hadn’t learned yet that there is many more important things in life than to simply have fun and express yourself. She hadn’t learned that mistakes are cues from nature to feel guilty and embarrassed. She was somehow under the impression that a mistake was something that you just lean over, grab and re arrange and then look around to see how everybody else is doing and then do your own thing.
And then I wondered about how I used to believe in Santa Clause, and now I don’t. And there was a time that I didn’t even know what a Santa Clause was, let alone worry about whether or not he was a concocted fantasy. I didn’t know who he was, then I was told about him and decided to believe in him, and later decided to discard this old belief. I began to wonder how it is possible to do the same thing with stage fright.
There was a time, obviously, when you didn’t know you were supposed to be afraid on stage. Then for some reason, some people learn to be afraid. What happens when you realize that fears are just a concocted myth, like Santa Clause, that you can easily learn to forget so that you can go back to being a kid again?
And that is when you can really start to find the cool stuff in life.