The ballet just kind of landed in my lap.
Rushed out of the edit room and into my boots – fifteen minutes until the press conference starts with the cameraman tapping his watch impatiently. I just got assigned this story 3 minutes ago and I’m already late – a last-minute decision by my boss frustrated, overwhelmed and understandably impatient with my badly-cut edit.
I felt badly – a headache starting at the back of my neck. Tired and panicky like I let my boss down and I should’ve known better and I’m so new at this but I hope nobody notices. A bit lost and stupid and self-conscious and afraid I look dumb and am annoying everyone.
In hindsight I can be more detached and realize that I shouldn’t have let it bother me. I’m not solely responsible for the cameraman’s surliness and my boss’s stress and no one in that marble press-conference hallway was looking at me anyway and I really can feel confident as a journalist. Like when I found myself thrust forward with a microphone into the ballerina’s face, and everyone waiting for me to ask the question, and nervous, self-conscious the sentences all came out and they were good.
But all I could think about the whole time was what a bad job I’d just done and was probably still doing and now everyone would think, ‘Oh no! Not THAT producer again!’
So I pretty much missed all the crunchy snow and ice rivets on the cobblestone streets outside the theater and all the interesting people (journalists, artists, directors, ballerina’s). And the beautiful hall with marble columns and sky-blue paint and a high glass ceiling looking out into Moscow’s black night sky, and the gorgeous free food laid out on white buffet tables for us (because we’re journalists, people! Man, I have such an amazing job.) All because I was too busy being frantic and self-conscious and worried -punishing myself and fretting.
But then, later, sitting in a cushy seat with the music stand lamps glowing up from the orchestra pit like some goblin treasure in a massive dark cave. And the ballerina’s rehearsing their pirouettes and stretching while the musicians trilled away, practicing their scores, I forced myself to SETTLE DOWN.
Writing it all out like a prayer helped. Also, thinking about what I could do better next time. And then I remembered that God is still working in my life and He’s promised to NEVER, under any circumstances, give up on me. So I didn’t really have anything to be so anxious about.
And when the curtain came up and the music started, it kind of stopped me. Very slowly, because the first part of the ballet was kind of weird and I thought that, probably, since it was modern ballet it would be too freaky to like.
But then they were all so beautiful and amazing – like peacocks and Matisse paintings – that I just forgot about everything else and got swept up in it, wondering what they come on stage and leave thinking about, those ballerina’s. Because the ballet was called “Reflections,” and it was about the psychology of ballerina’s – like watching them look inside a mirror at themselves, at their own reflection, and they showed all of this with dance and movement and music.
They were all dancing out their stage life – the pre-show moments and costume change and fights with other ballerina’s and how some of them come on the stage with drama or horror or ambition or shame, pride, self-consciousness, or intensity – perfectly poised and ready. And how they leave, playing everything back in their heads and going back over it – how it was and how it should’ve been, as we all just sit there and clap and watch.
And art is like worship in that way. You get swept away out of your self-consciousness into something bigger and more beautiful, just like all my tension was gently blown out of me as soon as the curtain rose and the music started playing.
So maybe that’s what blessings are like – dumped on you as an honor and a treat like the icy gatorade football players pour out on their coaches’ head after the big game. And if you can just quit complaining and freaking out long enough, then you have a chance to see how lovely it really is.
So I love my life, and I’m so thankful. And my only regret is that I didn’t bring my own camera.* Because that was THE place to take pictures. Journalists at dress rehearsals get to walk around and peek down into the orchestra pit, and watch the ballerina’s warm up in front of their mirrors backstage and sit wherever they want in the audience – like the very front row, for example.
But seriously, I’m so thankful for all the ways that God loves me and how He’s as faithful as the dawn. More faithful than me; more faithful than my mistakes…