Songs of Love in Fear

It is said by some that there are only two basic emotions, Love & Fear, and that all other emotional labels are merely various shades of these.

It is also said that these two emotions cannot exist in the same moment; that we are either open in Love or closed in fear.  I have seen, especially in recent months, that Life is Paradox:

We are all made of energy, we all die, yet energy never dies.

We are all special, yet none of us is more special than the next.

Our darkest moments are often when we come to see the light.

I am part of a female singing group called SheVine, & we will be singing next Sunday, 2/21 at in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

During rehearsal, we stood with our music in hand, singing our parts in harmony, and when it came time to rehearse the song which features me on lead, I found myself gripped by fear… while singing about Love.

Why did this happen?

I practiced the song beforehand to know it well enough for a good rehearsal, but somehow the structure of standing with music in hand, next to seasoned sight-readers with a musical genius at piano, hit the play button on an old, familiar tape from years past.

Flashback to 5 years old; Daddy is The Universe, and I believe there is nothing he can’t do.  He plays guitar well enough to pick any lead guitar part after hearing it only once or twice on the radio! He has his own band, and I am his biggest fan.  My dad is the greatest!

One day he says, “Reading music is hard. I never could learn it. It took my band director in high school some time to figure it out, but when he did, I was kicked out of The Eagle’s High School Marching Band, and that was it for my trombone playing.”

WHAT?!?! Daddy was kicked out of band?  But he’s Superman! Wow! Reading music must be REALLY hard, because Dad is amazing at making music; and singing harmony must be hard too, because Daddy said so, and he’s the best!

In private practice, I’d been singing the message of the song, and having fun, but within the group, I became concerned about the accuracy of my timing, and whether the notes I was singing matched the ones on the page.

I felt my heart tighten, my throat clinch, and by mind begin to race with self-judgment and thoughts of inadequacy; scanning the pages to find my place, and feeling lost in what is a very simple song about Love.

It was like being in a book club, not knowing how to read, and having someone ask, “What did you think about the surprise at the end of chapter 12?”

Ummm… wow!  Well… what did you think?”

Finally I said in frustration, “I am illiterate. I can’t read this.” I felt an old, familiar sense of shame and self-defeat, a voice that said I didn’t belong with these amazing women, and the group would be better off without me.

My sisters in soul and song were gracious, as was our musical leader.  They shared encouraging words, which, by the time I reached home, settled into my consciousness as reassurance that my voice is a beautiful, unique expression of The Divine, which flows through me.

I remembered how I had won contests and awards for singing with local bands in my teens, never reading music, but feeling confident in my abilities, because I had sung songs which resonated with my soul, never coming face to face with the notes on the page.

Then I thought of the Sunday morning message at church again.  It had been reiterated by our choir director earlier in the evening, “All self judgment is the flowering of a seed planted by someone else’s negative thought about them selves.”

When did the seed of judgment about reading music, and the shame felt about my own musical development get planted? It doesn’t matter, really.

What does matter, is that I have seen it for what it is, a plastic skeleton hanging in the closet of a dark room. It looks scary until someone turns on the lights.  Then it’s just a cheap, plastic toy, almost comical, made to look more frightening than it really is, up close.

And so, the paradox for me is this… even when fear is present, there is only, ever, really, Love.

Love is the stage on which fear dances, because Love is bigger than fear.

I had begun choir rehearsal, thinking about, singing about, and feeling, Love. Then fear tried to take root in the form of a belief someone else planted in the garden of my consciousness.

I tended to, and watered that seed, and even gave it mega-grow formula plant food at times, but ultimately, the light of Love, coupled with the wisdom of The Observer, vanquished the lie of fear to reveal my True Self Worth.

I used the shadow to be reminded of the light, and ultimately saw that the fear I felt while singing about Love, was merely a reminder of the illusion, created by a thought about fear, to bring me back to the only thing that is real… Love.

I am not alone in this process.  What weeds were planted in your consciousness by someone else’s adopted beliefs about Life?

I think it’s time we did some gardening.




8 thoughts on “Songs of Love in Fear

  1. BEAUTIFUL, Leela. How quickly you moved through those false beliefs about perceived inadequacy. The courage and big-heartedness you demonstrate in this experience serve as evidence for why your singing of this song will be such powerful testimony and an inspiration for all who hear you. May you shine! (FWIW, you sounded awesome even while your mind was having its little chat with fear. ;-> )

  2. frank

    Your ability to articulate this experience in a way I ( and others) can relate to is itself a gift that you have brought to mastery. Like playing piano or singing, writing like this doesn’t happen overnight. Thanks for the insight into my own practice.

  3. Thank you, Frank. I’m glad the piece resonates.

    And, I am grateful for the Grace we find in “The Witness;” for the Grace which allows us to find that space of stepping away from our thoughts and feelings to connect with “the peace that passes all understanding.” And I am grateful for all of the teachers who have come into my Life to show me more about The Way.

  4. Carol B

    Inspiring thoughts that hit very close to home for me. Judy Garland as a child found it impossible to sing once her mother died and her coach told her she had to somehow USE the fear, the pain in the emoting of the song and instead of letting the cry stop in her throat, to push through it and let it come out shaky or not in the song. The trick is to work through it and find the other side where you can reign it in and share it effectively. I’m ok at it until you ask me to sing Christmas Carols, that emotional baggage has yet to be conquered for me. Sing on Leela, I’ve heard you sing in the studio and I think you are terrific! I’d be honored to sing in any choir with you! 😀

  5. Paula

    Leela, beautiful perfection! Thank you for your posting! I, too, heard similar seeds planted in the words from my mother the “opera singer” — why, you can’t sing, you have a low voice…she was only trying to help so I wouldn’t be disappointed when I didn’t get whatever role I was auditioning for. So for years when I tried to sing, I felt inadequate, although my heart so wanted to soar in song. So I started back slowly, after my son was born. I could read piano music, but I couldn’t translate that to voice until just recently. I always felt I lacked the natural talent (others’ voices in my head: your voice is low, you’re too loud, you’re flat, etc.) — something that just seems so natural for you! So I cling to the black dots on the page — maybe they will sing for me! Trusting that I can do what I set out to, trusting that the reason we sing is to connect from our hearts to everyone else’s hearts — what a miraculous journey we are on! To turn the fear into love. You were glorious today — you’re a shining star and I got to bask in your glow! Thank you! It was an honor to sing with you!

    1. Thank you Carol and Paula,

      Moving through fear is a gift, yes? As are both of you to my life.

      Sunday was a healing experience for me. Connecting with the community in song was more about the message of Love than anything else. And we all felt the love, regardless of a dropped word here or there, or a flat note or two.

      I got some powerful lessons this week, and I’m grateful for all of the teachers who continue to come across my path.

      Both of you keep on singing… for the Love!


  6. Leela, my lovely, you sounded awesome. As I sat high watch Sunday morning, my heart was lifted by your gorgeous voice and your authentic love. Thank you for reminding me that Love is always stronger than fear.

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