Archive for May, 2009

I want to take a few moments to toot my own horn a bit.

Yesterday at a festive Memorial Day gathering of good friends, I stepped up in front of the crowd, ready to make a fool of myself.

What did I do? I performed the song I wrote last year. I stood there with my guitar and a microphone, with nothing to hide behind, played the song…and the world didn’t end.

Now what’s the big deal with playing a song? Thousands of people do that every day. For me, though, it was the first time ever. I’ve played guitar in bands for years; most recently, I’ve been backing up my friend and singer, Jim Stevens. But that’s the point. I’m comfortable (relatively so) in the background. The thought of performing solo — especially since I’m not a singer — was terrifying.

And right up until the point where I started playing the song, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. The only reason I think it happened is because I made no official announcement that I was beginning. There was no big “oh my God I’m about to do this” moment. I just started playing while people were talking, and before I knew it, the show had begun.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. Even when I messed up the guitar part in the second verse. I smiled at Jim (who smiled back), got my bearings in the song, and continued. My friend, Kelly, stepped up behind me to do some vocal harmonies. It all unfolded naturally, comfortably.

Even though there was no big moment of decision, I did have a little conversation with myself about 10 minutes before I started. On the verge of deciding not to perform, I imagined myself in bed later that night, and I knew that I’d regret it if I didn’t give it a shot. And then a voice spoke to me. “Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. That’s the most important lesson you’ll learn in your life, Curtis.”

My singing was timid and off-key more than it was confident and on-key, but so what? I did something I’ve always wanted to do. I took something that was outside of my circle of life experience and brought it within. And I discovered it was safe for me to be a fool.

Each one of us has things we’re comfortable with and things we’re not. Too often the line between the two can feel like a wall, impossible to climb. But the wall is imaginary, and all it takes to cross that line is a single step forward.


Hear the original recording I produced last year:

Where I Want to Be by Curtis G. Schmitt


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