August 12, Monday, was not my day. It’s five days before my recital on Saturday, five very short days away, and my training is not going well at all.
Recital? What recital?
Singing is a passion of mine, and I take lessons in Western classical singing. I attend our school’s annual school recital in the winter, and I choose to participate in the yearly summer recital organized by my teacher for all her students. This year’s summer recital is scheduled for this Saturday.
Today, I had a session with my accompanist to make sure that we will be in sync for Saturday. We did not have any issue in the past, but this afternoon, I just could not get it right. My voice was either too high (that is, reedy) or too low (that is, heavy), neither of which was good as it showed lack of control, exhaling too much air, heavy consonants (which lead to the vowels being sung late), among other problems. If I couldn’t keep my voice even, I was not being efficient with my breath, which in turn made my singing choppy instead of smooth, my tones uneven, and my voice too weak to get to the far end of the hall. All not very good.
One problem was probably that I did not have time to vocalize in the morning before leaving for work. And I need a lot of time to vocalize. Some people can vocalize in 10 minutes and are ready to sing a full aria, while others like me need more time. Today, sufficient vocalization was important as today was the only time my accompanist and I had for practice, unfortunately for me. We are both busy and neither of us can take frequent long lunch breaks, so I can’t schedule another session with her before Saturday (we agreed to meet early at the recital hall on Saturday and practice, before the actual recital – hopefully that’s sufficient).
But whatever the problem is, it’s more than lack of vocalization. My voice itself was not the problem, but the way I was singing. Every single minute of our practice session was horrendous. I tell you, I had to fight back my tears. Something was blocking my concentration, which in turn was affecting my performance. Right now, I don’t know what it is, but I intend to find out. I only have a few days, so I have to figure it out soon if I want to turn in a good performance.
On my way back from practice to the office, while I was mulling things over, I noted that it’s not so different from handling my blood glucose levels. When I think I’ve nailed it, a higher-than-usual BG level for no clear reason will remind me that things are not always as they seem. Keeping my BG level is not a breeze. It requires continuous work, attention and adjustment. With singing, even if you have mastered the technique, you have to continue practicing and adjusting, but also to learn to sit back and be confident that you’ve done all you needed to do and could do, accept the results (whatever they may be), and (if things don’t go as planned) commit to doing well at the next performance. It’s the same with running. Despite the best preparations, something can go wrong at the race itself. It takes a lot of physical hard work and dedication to even get to the starting line. And if you have done all you can do to prepare for the day, then accept what you have achieved for that day. Just vow to lace your shoes for the next run.
But I can always choose to walk away from running and singing, although I’ve not done that yet (I can’t live with myself otherwise). With T2D, though, you can’t walk away from it. Even if, for the sake of argument, that you’ve forgotten about your T2D or have decided to ignore it, it is there, slowly destroying your body. Even if I say it doesn’t dictate who I am, because it doesn’t, T2D remains a major part of me, as are running and singing. The only difference is that while I can choose not to run and sing, I cannot “unchose” being a T2 diabetic.
What to do? Accept and fight. I can’t think of any other way to go about it. Can you?
Accepting is not acknowledging defeat. No, it is only by realizing that there’s a problem that we can actually begin to understand and address it. Then, we fight it. We fight high BG. We fight depression. We fight self-pity and guilt. We fight complications. We fight judgment, not just from non-diabetics or people with other types of diabetes, but also from fellow Type 2 diabetics. Hopefully, with success on our side.
As I’ve said earlier, it’s not so different from running or singing. I’ve done 4 marathons now and some shorter races. As John “The Penguin” Bingham said, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” I can say the same of singing on stage in front of strangers. The miracle isn’t that I got through my song, but that I had the courage to get up there and sing in the first place. I can easily pretend that I have sore throat and back out from my performance, but what does that make of me? If I think that I can’t do a personal best at a race, I can fake an injury, but again, what does that make of me? So it is with T2D. I cannot opt out of diabetes, but I can choose not to fight it. But if I don’t face it and deal with it, I suffer. So, every day I choose to fight T2D. That is the miracle, and for me that is the only way to go.
I can’t say if my passion for running and singing contributes to how I deal with my T2D more than how I deal with my T2D contributes to my singing and running. But I can say that each contributes to the other. I firmly believe that every experience we have, every decision we make, and every mistake we learn from, make us stronger, inform other aspects of our lives, and shape who and what we are.
My immediate problem at the moment is my singing recital, but I’m not defeated yet. I will only be defeated if I don’t show up and try my best, and I have no desire to do either. I still have a few more days to fine-tune my performance, and that I have every intention of doing so.