There were some really fun, really crazy, and really amazing things that happened last week both before AND after the DMCO concert that I didn't mention in my previous post. But I don't want to forget a single thing about that experience, so here are a couple of glimpses behind the scenes.
So...you know how stuff finds me?
Well, it does.
It's always the greatest stuff, but it's also the most obscure stuff...like playing the part of a Lamanite mother in the Book of Mormon pageant, or being an adult leader for a youth mini mission, or playing the organ for Stake Conference (that was a total disaster, but such a great experience.) Anyway, somehow Heavenly Father knows just the right people to whisper my name to so that I get to have the best experiences in my life. Obscure, and totally unexpected, but oh so amazing experiences.
A couple of weeks ago, the DMCO Grand Chorus Manager, who I love and admire and just really really think is awesome, sent me an email and asked if I would be willing to head up the Decorating Committee for the concert. That job description included: receiving the shipment of decorations that was being sent from EVMCO in Mesa, AZ; transporting it all to the Meyerson on the Thursday before the concert; and being in charge of getting everything set up in the concert hall. I told her that I would be happy to receive and transport everything, but that I had no innate decorating ability and pitiful leadership skills. She was undeterred and I was officially named Decorating Chair. On Wednesday evening four very large boxes arrived at my house with more patriotic stuff than I've ever seen in my life, all of it on loan from the City of Mesa. Craig and his dad skillfully loaded all of it into the van, along with all four of us, and we made the trek in ridiculously heavy traffic, down to the Meyerson Concert Hall to start decorating on Thursday afternoon.
Three hours later when we started our final rehearsal, it looked like this...
After all the decorating, we started a speed run through rehearsal that lasted until 10:00pm...which wasn't actually very speedy. But it was fulfilling and exciting and made me want to hurry up and get through the next 48 hours so we could just sing in that concert already!
In that picture up there, I am the blue dress third from center in the very front row. There were a handful of times during the concert when the entire choir left the loft and either exited to wait in the mezzanine lobby so the kids' choirs could sing, or we exited to run downstairs and sing in the middle of the aisles in the audience. Can you see the stairs on either side of the choir loft? Those were our exit and entrance routes...across the front row, and all the way to those far stairs. They're not steep, but they are heavily lacquered, and in the dark, a little difficult to navigate. (OK, fine, they probably aren't at all difficult to navigate but I can't see a thing in the dark.)
I purposely wore flats on Saturday night because I knew there would be a lot of motion and a lot of standing throughout the evening. On our first exit, I made it swiftly out of the choir loft, out to the lobby, down the marble staircase and into the aisles to sing To Be American with all the kids' choirs. It was spectacular, and I kept thinking how grateful I was to be included in that beautiful song with those amazing kids.
After the song, we had to make our way back up the stairs, through the lobby, and back into the choir loft...quickly! As I got to the shellac-ed wooden stairs in the loft, I held onto the rail, and visualized myself gracefully walking all the way down and to the center of the front row. But, somehow, I missed the second to the last step, and even though I saved myself from going right over the rail, or falling down completely and holding up the rest of the women coming in behind me, I twisted my ankle a little on the way down. I heard a crunching sound that my ankle has made only once before when I signed up for a 6 week Boot Camp class and ran through a giant tire course. And holy cow, did it hurt! I hobbled to my spot, and then the room started to spin, and my head felt all fuzzy, and my ankle ached every time I put my weight on it. I could see Glenn Beck moving around, but I missed everything he said. I was mostly just trying to stay in an upright position and not pass out and distract anyone from the concert. I prayed silently to keep it together, to keep standing, and for Glenn to hurry up and finish so I could sit down. He didn't hurry. And then there was a song...I'm not sure which one, but I made myself sing something just to remain coherent. And right in the middle of it, I started to sway a little too much. I had no choice but to grab the hand of the sweet older lady who sings quietly next to me and rarely says a word to anyone. I've only talked to her a few times so I'm sure she was shocked that I was clutching her hand so tightly in the middle of a song that wasn't even one of the emotional ones. But she kept holding onto my hand, and together we managed to keep me from falling into the percussion section, and for that I was very, very grateful. We sat down after that song. She smiled a concerned smile at me. And eventually the room stopped spinning.
I talked to that sweet lady (whose name I don't even know) just briefly after the concert and she was so kind and so concerned about me. She stayed pretty close to me while I made my way through the bowels of the concert hall and found my way to Craig. When I told him about my ordeal, he reached into his coat pocket and handed me two Naproxen...don't even ask me why he happened to have those with him. I made it through the entire second concert and the take down afterward with no ankle problems. None. Miraculous, indeed. When the Boot Camp incident happened in 2010, my ankle was bandaged, swollen and bruised for over a week.
So here are the handful of things I learned from those (and a couple of other) choir experiences over the weekend:
Perspective. Prior to the concert, I was really, really, really (you can add about 12 more reallys) stressed out about the one choreographed song we were singing. Oh Susanna. I hadn't once gotten the clapping and the words to come together in a rehearsal for me. And all I could see in my head when I tried to visualize the music was the big giant word EMOTE that I had scribbled in pencil over the top of the whole song! That's not my strongest skill. I worried about that song all Friday night and all day Saturday. Until I had the little ankle problem. After that, I didn't care one bit about looking silly or messing up the words or the clapping sequence. Once I made it to the Oh, Susanna part of the program, I only felt complete relief and gratitude that I was still standing in that choir loft. Isn't it amazing how one little thing can shift your entire perspective in an instant?
Being Part of Something Big. I loved helping with those patriotic decorations. Not one person said, "Oh wow. What beautiful decorating!" Not one of the directors commented on the decorations at all. I didn't hear a single person in the lobby after the concert talking about the spectacular decorations. But I knew that I had contributed to the overall effect of the evening, both in the choir and on that little decorating committee. As I was climbing around the balcony, I felt like one of those little mice in Cinderella...unobtrusively making things beautiful while everyone else was busy contributing in other ways. And to look out on all those pretty stars and stripes out there while I sang made me infinitely happy and fulfilled. That's the thing about MCO...it isn't about being a soloist or being seen. There is no part greater than any other. Every single voice, every instrument, and every behind-the-scenes organizer is necessary and essential.
We Can't Do This Alone. More and more often lately, I have experiences that remind me in very big ways that we are not intended to do things on our own in this life. We were not sent to this earth to be independent and self contained. We need committees. We need companions. We need friends. And we need helpers. I tried hard during that little ankle mishap to say positive things in my head, to think happy thoughts, and to will myself to keep standing when all I really wanted to do was let myself fall down. And that worked for a little while. But eventually, my individual strength and determination wasn't enough, and I had to reach for someone else's hand, and then hold onto it really tightly. There are people standing by waiting to be that hand when we don't have enough strength to do it on our own. I hope to have the opportunity to be one of those helpers the way that lovely woman helped me on Saturday night.
I'm so grateful for the tiny little things sprinkled among the grand and the ordinary days in my life that remind me of a loving Heavenly Father. I'm so grateful for all the experiences I have had with this choir so far, and for the many that will come in the future. What an amazing thing to be part of something extraordinary and meaningful.