I just got back from Italy. My first time there. I was anxious for several reasons.
First, I always get anxious when I travel. Second, I spent a year studying Italian to learn to speak some essential phrases. I have a lot of fear around acquiring and using new languages.
Third thing is the funniest of all. I was afraid I would love it there so much that coming home would be intolerable, unbearable. That isn’t quite what happened.
When we got to stunning Florence, my reaction surprised me. I looked around at the picture-perfect place and kept thinking, “It’s just a place.”
I kept trying to snap myself out of it. “Hey, stupid, wake up! This is ITALY…this is FLORENCE!”
But inside I looked around and I just felt kind of dead. At least not really equal to the scene. Not thrilled or moved.
My son had a theory that we’ve all been Disneyfied so much, that places like Florence just look to us like Disneyworld, only not as clean and more spread out. He thinks it ruins places like that for us. And yet my kids were thrilled by the place, so that must not have been it.
I thought that maybe because I’d been to other European cities perhaps it just wasn’t novel enough. I thought that because I’m almost 50, I just couldn’t get blown away by a city like I used to. Perhaps I lacked the imagination to pretend it was magical and to immerse myself.
Then I realized it wasn’t the place that felt dead. It was me. I was the one who felt ordinary.
So I tried to envision myself as being as beautiful as the place I was in. I tried to remember how I used to think of myself as kind of a magical creature. That type of self-deception had gotten me through a lot of hard times.
It worked. Imagining myself as beautiful, I started to enjoy Florence a little more. Changing my self-image changed the way I looked at the world around me.
That should come as no surprise, right? How we feel affects what we see? And yet here was a very simple base-case to test that idea.
I always want to be honest with myself about who I am and what I’m worth. And yet, if that “honesty” creates a dead world for me to live in, it will have to be tempered with a certain sense of youthful self-indulgence. I might need that kind of self-love, even if it’s not entirely “accurate,” just to have a reason to keep going every day.
What about you?
I've been profiled in two releases this week, the first from my voice teacher from long ago, Charlotte Hunt. The second is an article on the uses of Facebook in which I am featured. Check out our "Press" page to see them!
Adam Cole is an author, educator and performer who blogs weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and artistry. He is the director of Innovative Approaches to Music, a comprehensive look at the benefits of music learning. To take a quiz on what kind of music warrior you are, please visit www.mymusicfriend.net