Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Energy is contagious

Night Watchers
I recently finished reading Keith Richard's Autobiography 'Life' (a pretty fascinating read, if you haven't read it).  I'm not a huge Rolling Stones fan, but I was interested because as I've gotten older I've grown to appreciate biographies and autobiographies more and more.  It's comforting and always amazing to me to read about how a life completely different from mine can still radiate the commonalities of the human experience.

One passage in particular resonated with me.  In speaking about his experiences being on stage:  "When you go on the road on these grueling tours you become a machine; your whole routine is geared to the gig.  From the moment you wake up, you're preparing for the show; your whole mind's on it all day, even if you think you know what you're going to do.  Afterwards you have a few hours free if you want, if you're not knackered...It's a hard drill sometimes.  But once I hit the stage, all of that miraculously goes away.  The grind is never the stage performance.  I can play the same song again and again, year after year.  When "Jumpin' Jack Flash" comes up again it's never a repetition, always a variation.  Always.  I would never play a song again once I thought it was dead.  We couldn't just churn it out.  The real release is getting on stage.  Once we're up there doing it, it's sheer fun and joy.  Some long-distance stamina, of course, is needed.  And the only way I can sustain the impetus over the long tours we do is by feeding off the energy that we get back from an audience.  That's my fuel.  All I've got is this burning energy, especially when I've got a guitar in my hands.  I get an incredible raging glee when they get out of their seats.  Yeah, come on, let it go.  Give me some energy and I'll give you back double.  It's almost like some enormous dynamo or generator.  it's indescribable.   I start to rely on it; I use their energy to keep myself going.  If the place was empty, I wouldn't be able to do it...We couldn't do that without their energy, we just wouldn't even dream of it.  And they make us want to give our best."

I grew up as a dancer and have been lucky to do it professionally for a while as well.  In the above passage, Keith Richards summed up the whole reason I love performing.  It is truly an amazing feeling when you get that exchange of energy going between yourself, your fellow performers, and your audience.  As he says, "it's indescribable".  I've had those moments before I get on stage when I think to myself, "I'm unbelievably exhausted, I don't know how I'm going to do this", but once you get going and you feel that energy coming back to you from the audience you want to give them everything.  

The Olympics have contributed to me wondering lately if it's the same experience for athletes.  For marathoners, do you get that extra burst of energy from those on the sidelines cheering you on?  Or does it come from your fellow marathoners as well?  What about those athletes whose audience must be silent?  Do they draw from the expectations of the audience and wait for the exultation after a great performance (golfers, gymnasts, etc)?  What about in your training when you DON'T have an audience or anyone cheering you on?  From where do you draw strength?  What keeps you going?

If you have any experiences to share or mantras that keep you going please share them with us!  And let's share our energy with each other so we can all experience things we never thought possible...

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