Wisdom from the "Old Bald Guy"

In Sanford’s memory, and from a deep place of gratitude, I want to share a few of the innumerable nuggets of “the old bald guy’s wisdom” (as he would jokingly refer to the advice he’d give to his students) throughout the very brief three years in which I had the privilege and joy of working with him. I went back through emails from him, as well as notes I’d taken from our weekly Voice Classes at Tanglewood last summer, and put together this little list.

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Discipline of Creating

As a perfectionist who struggles daily with a fear of failure, the messiness of creative work is daunting to me. I experience a lot of internal resistance when it comes to developing new work, because there’s no right answer. There’s no certainty of success. There are no to-do lists to complete, because the work is never truly complete.

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Spending in the New Year

This got me thinking about my penny-pinching ways. I realized that, while saving a little each month and avoiding excessive spending are very good habits, the level to which I maintain frugality goes beyond healthy saving habits and into an unhealthy need for control. My reluctance to spend money on things that are actually important reflects a fear of uncertainty and a desire to have all the cards in my hand before making any major decisions.

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Hibernating

It’s been a long year. There’s been so much anger and hurt in the world. Feelings of certainty and security are in short supply across the board.

To push through this and force myself to hustle would be to spiral toward burnout in the new year. Instead, as Jen Waldman puts so beautifully in her blog, I want to sit back, be still, and contemplate how I can contribute in the new year. I want to look back at 2018 and assess not only what I’m grateful for, but also what I did to contribute to others’ wellbeing, as well as how I could have contributed more.

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Saying No

Realistically speaking, as a young artist living in NYC, of course I can’t completely cut out ALL of my to-dos that do not provide 100% artistic satisfaction. But by intentionally evaluating my activities on a regular basis, I can at least become more aware of the value of my to-do list—as well as the cost of maintaining it when it grows too long.

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