Last night, I attended Hazel’s middle school choir concert. I got there a little later than I’d hoped. A class I attended went long and then I had to fight some gnarly traffic on the way to the school performance hall. When I arrived, I found Dave and Nora in the auditorium easily but then I saw how far away we were from the stage and I almost cried. I snapped at Dave, “You’ve been here for 45 minutes and couldn’t get better seats?” What a horrible thing to say. Let the traffic and the expectations go… apologize to Dave. I felt a little better and then the show began.
There’s a lot going on at school performances. There’s the very impressive stuff happening on stage and there’s also an impressive amount of stuff happening in the audience. Younger siblings wiggle and talk, people move through the aisles a lot, and parents stick their phones up in the air to snap photos or take videos throughout the show. I attempted to harness some yogi powers to focus on the performance and not the rest of the stuff.
With all the possible distractions and in my ragged emotional state, I did pretty well, but there was one thing that had the potential to derail my best intentions. It wasn’t the toddler bouncing on the chair next to me or being awash in light each time the door to the auditorium opened. Instead, I was sucked in by the quiet activity of the grandmother in the row ahead of me. She was on her phone compulsively scrolling through facebook the entire time.
I was unreasonably upset and irritated by this. “You come all the way here and these kids are singing beautifully and you’d rather be on your phone?” I’ll spare you the rest of the rant that was in my head. My own facebook usage has been under self-scrutiny lately. I’m on there way more than I want to be so it felt good to direct that criticism elsewhere for a little while. I interrupted my rant to point out to myself that she may be on fb, but I’m thinking about her being on fb so I’m not really here either. I knew that my attitude was more about me than her. I pulled my eyes off of her screen and back to the show.
This happened at least six times.
Each time I brought my attention back to the show, I made the effort to listen to the kids and the piano and it got a little easier to avoid that screen. When I tried to imagine how much courage it took for those soloists to be there, singing in front of a huge audience, a little more time passed without fretting about facebook-grandma. When the boy choir sang Oh Holy Night, one of my favorite Christmas carols, I was moved to tears. I was far from a state of samādhi, but I did leave the concert happy that I had been there, happy that I could pay attention to the wonderful music, the kids (all dressed up), the accompanying musicians, and the teachers on stage. Who knew middle school choir concerts were a good place to practice yoga?
As I think about the show today, I feel so much appreciation for the performers who gave it their all and the teachers and staff that made it possible. My heart swells with pride and gratitude to know that these kids get to have this kind of experiences. Hazel was exhausted and delighted when it was all over. I know because when she got home, she gave me one of those extra-long hugs where she closes her eyes and sinks into me. I’m grateful for that, too. I’m really glad I went to the concert and even happier that I could really be there.