AGMC meets AWR

By Jennifer Marriott

I’ve occupied myself doing lots of ‘stuff’ in my grown-up life.

I flirted with the broadcasting industry, as ‘on air’ talent and behind the scenes control freak.  I worked as a waitress, bartender, restaurant manager, cook and dishwasher. Sometimes all in the same day.

I knocked around the communications industry – graphic design, advertising and marketing – until it didn't like me very much, and I liked it even less.

Computer programming has captured my fancy for quite a while. It was, and still is, a true love/hate relationship. Somehow triumphant euphoria and deep frustration coexist in relative harmony when you’re a so-called ‘geek.’ Or at least they did/do for me.

But what I have always been, deep in my core, is a songstress. Ironically, this place that is me, this center of my soul, is also where I have found it most difficult to live, let alone ‘own.’ Until now.

Music Is My Angel

I have music thrumming through my tense, high-strung body 24/7.  It’s always been this way, as far back as I can recall.  Sitting in my mother's garden (at the first house I fully remember), I conducted the lilies, roses and narcissus in never-ending symphonies about the sky and the birds and the wondrous world of nature and childhood. I made the music up as I went.

jennifer_marriott_-_jennifer_marriott.jpgAs all but the blind do, I SEE the world around me in all its visual glory. Where my experience (and that of others like me), differs is that the visual panorama is always accompanied by a soundtrack in my head. Sometimes the soundtrack is soft and unobtrusive like the ”musak” in elevators or malls. It’s there, but hardly noticeable unless you turn your attention to it. Other times it wells up inside: a great tidal wave of emotion that leaves me breathless with its intensity. This music consumes me, and in many ways rules my world.

I’ve spent many years struggling with it, this music that is in me, and of me.  It is my angel of grace. It’s the demon that eats my insides. I know it. It knows me.

The Double-Edged Sword

I believe my experience is like that of countless other artists, no matter their media or their instruments. We are our own worst enemies, harshest critics, and most punishing selves.  Our need to express ourselves and our experience of the world around us compels us to compose, to paint, to play. And yet that same need feeds our insecurities, doubts and self-loathing. It’s a cruel, joyous double-edged sword/gift that we variously wield in battle, hold aloft in victory, or poise for hari-kari.

I’ve been on a bit of a journey over the last year, as I turn a corner in my life, trying to find where I live and belong, trying to understand how I can own myself.  The funny thing is, the journey hasn’t been planned. And I’ve discovered that out of the unplanned can come immeasurable wealth.

A few months ago (in August 2008 to be precise), an email arrived in my inbox from a fellow Canadian, who was also not living in Canada. She found me through an online community dedicated to the open source software she was using to build a website.  She needed help with the site, and had been attracted by my description: “average geeky musician chick.”  I never thought the description would end up introducing me to an amazing person, but then again, I’m finding out amazing things happen in mysterious ways. 

Discovery & Inspiration

So I check out this lady's site and find  Hmm... I think to myself, perhaps it’s about a musician?  I flip around the site, and come across Susan's story.  I’m captivated. I read it two or three times in a row just to make sure that I get it.  I feel a sense of connection without actually having connected.  I’m inspired. One thing leads to another, we exchange a few emails, talk on the phone, skype, share knowledge, opinions, views and laughs.

But wait, I missed something up there in the sharing bit.  The most important thing being shared was inspiration.  That inspiration has led me to shed 25 lbs since August.

I’ve also been inspired to let go of the self conscious, self-defeating attitude that I had adopted (well it shows up sometimes still, but I am now a bit more comfortable taking a big stick to it).

Instead of struggling and battling my music, I am working on embracing and releasing it, letting it flow out of me, good, bad or indifferent and living in the moment of the singular note, in the now where it exists in time and relishing it, instead of missing the moment thinking and worrying about how everyone else is receiving it.

I’ve stopped judging myself and the ‘imperfections’ that may or may not be hanging out there for everyone to see.  I don't mind being seen as much as I used to. In fact, I’m beginning to enjoy it. Learning to own one's life is a hard process.  Inspiration doesn't do the work for you, but it sure makes the work much more enjoyable. 

Thank you Susan.