12 January 2008

Every year for the past many years, I have sent out a holiday letter – a summary of sorts – about the past year, to my friends. In certain ways this letter is “normal”, but I also have used it to express my thoughts about life as it seems to me, as I experience it, and as it challenges me.
It started out going out to a small number of close friends. People I shared my thoughts with regularly, people close to me by all measurable standards. As a few years passed, I started including family members (who at times it feels the most vulnerable to open up to) and new friends and colleagues.
Every year I feel an intense sense of “risk” when putting together my list of recipients. Having to make a choice whether or not to share so openly with this person or that…
It’s a fascinating experience.
What always seems to make the choice for me, is the answer to the question, “Have I ever had a meeting of the minds, or hearts, with this person?”.
The question that never gets to make the decision is, “Am I scared of what this person will think of me if I share this?”
Every year I have to summon all my courage, and forsake all my personal sense of significance, and just trust that my letters will affect each person exactly the way it is supposed to.

I am a ridiculously loyal and devoted person. Once someone has moved my heart in some way, I am unlikely to ever let them go in terms of sensing kinship. And I know this is both unbelievable and maybe even uncomfortable for some people – especially in the opera business where loyalties seem to shift with the winds and the nearest tails…
But my career is nothing if not about setting a different “tone”. And in the face of that I can’t allow myself to apologize. And certainly not buckle…

The list gets longer each year, so I guess I am doing something right. And every year I get responses from the most unlikely persons. People sharing wonderful thoughts and feelings – Connecting the dots.

It is a risk worth taking, methinks.

This is a quote I really love:

“I must learn to love the fool in me – the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool.”

– Theodore I. Rubin, MD