Monday, January 20, 2014

Shirley Horn

When I watch videos of Shirley Horn, I see power. A very quiet, strong power.

Lately, I've been watching people I admire - I mean, really watching them, so I don't just listen to them, and I don't just look at them, but I try to feel what it might be like to be them.

And as much as I respect them for their technique and skill - their intonation, perfect pacing, the grace in their movement - that is not what inspires me, and I've known this for a long time. But only through this exercise have I been able to finally grasp why some people move me: It's their power of being. It's a live energy, a strong will, a current inside their body that is so deep and so real. They are strong from their heart, their gut, or, as they say in Hawaiian, their na`au. It's a kernel of power that over time they have managed to grow into something that, when you encounter it, takes your breath away. It's not what they do - it's who they are. You are simply experiencing who they are through what they are doing.

I'm certain this intensity of being, this live energy, is what makes a woman become amazing at anything she chooses. It is this strong being that propels her to hone her skills, so when in life she is called upon to express herself, she can honor that expression with the refinement necessary to make that expression true. Becoming skillful is not the end, but simply a means. Indeed, many go through a lifetime pursuing refinement in their chosen craft and never move those who hear and see them. With this in mind, I'm certain if Shirley Horn decided at a young age that fixing cars was her thing, she'd be a beautiful auto mechanic. I've come to understand that even though the world may venerate you for the contribution you've made to a specific field, for the role you've played, you should not allow your identity to be wrapped up in what you do; the real imprint lies in the power of your being, in who you are.

I have yet to unlock the mystery of what makes this live energy grow strong inside of you. Perhaps if I am able to see this power, the next step for me is to be this power, to give in when emotions well up inside of me - perhaps emotions are the center from which this begins? This is what I want to be mindful of as I become the Ruth I was meant to become.

This is just the beginning ...