When I first started writing this blog, I was helping with Friday night services once every six weeks or so. But these days we have an abundance of rabbinic students whose job is to learn how to lead (vs. me, a plain old volunteer), and since 2006 I've been called two or three times a year. Since I loved it so much, and am a festering cauldron of insecurity, I became paranoid and wondered if I screwed up or fell out of favor. I drove a number of my friends, and myself, crazy--and also knew, deep down, that I had no reason for doubt. I am good at this; not perfect, because I'm human, but also not too shabby.
I'm all better now (I think). I've come to understand the need to remain calm and balanced in life, a priority for quite some time--but intellectual knowing is different from emotional awareness. With balance comes the skill of worrying about only what deserves the effort. Turning a gift like the chance to lead services or chant Torah into an indulgence of angst is a sin, a waste of goodness, and steals energy from other important things.
So chalk up yet another life-changing lesson learned from the act of standing in front of people and singing. (What kind of human would I be if I never found my synagogue? I can scarcely imagine.) I tried to put this awareness into play on Friday, when I helped lead (for the 21st time--legal now, I guess) with the rabbi whose energy feels like a gust of wind. But I no longer fear being knocked over; now I can breathe it in and use it to become stronger.
(To be continued.)