Or Why Taking Responsibility – That Isn’t Yours – Can Be Detrimental To Your Health!
On the red metal bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, over the River Onyar in Girona at sunset, walking with my friend Anna, a man, thirty-something, with a jaunty walk, approached from the opposite direction. Recognizing Ana, he slowed and exchanged greetings. “Que tal?” she asked. He said he’d just come from teaching a voice class. He cradled a bottle of Dom Perignon, and I commented that was a precious bottle. “A gift from one of my students,” he said, with a smile that conveyed genuine gratitude. He was relaxed and completely present to our conversation.
“So you teach singing?” I asked. “Not exactly. I work with professional singers, yes, and others, to find and expand their voice, which comes from their body, their grounding.” Jordi Hom continued, speaking of the relationship of the body’s organs to the body and its surroundings, using all its senses – including its intuitive sense – to give rise to voice. “It has little to do with just breathing.”
Without thinking, I asked, “Can I have a session with you?” I surprised myself. “Sure,” he replied and we made a date. The night before, I had a Skype talk with a new friend, who is a talented jazz singer. We spoke about the joy of singing, and my inhibition, believing I cannot sing on key. “You have a great speaking voice. I’m sure you can sing,” she said. I wasn’t sure, although I love to sing and know the words to nearly every song I’ve ever heard. And then this teacher appeared. Serendipity.
Jordi’s studio is a spacious room with a mirrored wall and electric piano in one corner. I stood in the middle while he walked around me, observing. “Your energy is cut off at the knees, ungrounded. It’s not flowing through your tightened chest, through your groin and connecting with the ground,” he said.
He sat at the piano and had me sing scales using different vowels. “You have no problem with key,” he noted, “but do you hear all the air in your voice?” Of course, it’s sounded like that for as long as I recall, as if diluting sound with air. “Let’s change that!” he said with glee. OK! I agreed.
For the next hour, I walked deliberately, planting my heels on the floor, moving my arms and hands in loose circles toward my body, I sat in a chair across from him as he massaged every centimeter of each hand, moving the energy up my arms, explaining how the meridians related to various organs. At one point he said, “You’re carrying responsibilities that are not yours.” As the truth of that was obvious to me, I began to weep.
I had a lifetime of stories of hurts, disappointments, abandonments… persistent memories of being wounded. I had literally taken to heart other people’s words and deeds, let them stick like a knife, drawing my life’s blood. And I carried responsibility for them, as if they were my words and deeds when, in fact, I know that everything that issues from another is theirs. I have my own. I didn’t need to take responsibility for anyone else’s. It was a heavy and painful burden that finally and suddenly could be let go. My body relaxed in a new way.
I returned several times to stand in front of the piano and intone scales. As if a miracle, I heard my voice without airiness, a pure deep rich tone. Jordi played “The Rose,” a perfect song for the occasion, and I sang, tears streaming down my cheeks. “You have a beautiful voice,” he said. Yes, I do. It’s always been there, a secret even to myself. Now it is revealed.
Interesting that this happened in Girona, a city renowned for its secrets hidden in massive stone walls, buried beneath ancient foundations. We all have wounds. That’s inevitable. But in relinquishing responsibilities that are not mine, my voice became clear.
Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you its only seed.
It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin’
That never learns to live.
When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose.