I searched online for writing prompts purely for my own entertainment and “training;” to stretch my current repertoire, albeit only slightly. Some require the use of my imagination, some of my failing memory, others of raw emotion and others still, of dreams. Yet, they all necessitate the sharpening of my grasp and style of written English, so here goes nothing:
My youth was filled with Alternative Rock more than other types of music – usually never even using synthesizers, loopers or other electronic devices, as is very common in new music today. I was influenced by my brothers along with a local radio station and had my pioneering tastes of the mindless and inexplicable joys of music. Mindless in a good way.
We had a neglected classical acoustic guitar at home which I picked up and slowly taught myself – thanks to the invention and proliferation of chord books and online guitar tabs (tablature) – the very basics of
string theory guitar playing. I was not very good but I was proficient enough to join several rock bands and not make a complete fool of myself – at least I didn’t think so.
Many years, gigs, electric guitars, effects pedals, a few bands and genres later, comes the night that pops into mind as I first read the prompt: a steamy, sticky, jittery night sometime in October, almost 10 years ago. The concrete grounds were covered by a massive tent with several hundred attendees; the smell of alcohol and sweat mingled with the stage lights, music and dance – it all seems chaotic from memory but a part of me sees the syntropy of the experience.
I never possessed that inner desire to be the center of attention, unlike most of the extroverts we all love. I was the exact opposite. I often wished I could disappear; be invisible. I reluctantly agreed to sing the second voice for a song. I had never done that before. On the wide 6 foot wooden stage, I played my part on the electric guitar, and sang when I had to.
Time appeared to stand still, and the minutes stretched into hours. My heart was beating furiously, threatening to give. It felt like my body temperature rose several degrees in anticipation of a nervous breakdown, sweat dripped down my face, armpits and every other pore of my skin.
All that band practice paid off when my mind went blank and my hands, fingers and voice went into auto-pilot. That must have been one of the most anxious and nerve-wracking moments of my life.
Stepping off the stage was a huge relief, and the adrenaline rush kept me high a little longer. We did OK. We patted ourselves on the back and got complimented by our friends in the crowd (though how well we really did is a mystery to me). I suppose it was sort of addicting. It wasn’t just the music, or the camaraderie, or the adrenaline, or the triumph after performing well, or the audience’s expressions of approval – it was the whole shebang.
Stage-fright was my adversary, but also my mentor. Having had to always overcome that fear, I’ve learned to face it and transform it into something I still am grateful for today – the inclination to do things that scare me.