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Friday, December 14, 2018

Don't Fear the Goosnick

Image result for gooseneck microphone person

 From an exchange I had with a fellow Mastodon user:
I wish I had an easy way to do this hard thing of managing anxiety. We are all prisoners in our skulls. With all the wonder of human communication I can still only approximately share what I feel and worse, only interpolate an approximation of what you share. May your anxiety be light for you, and a good shabbos and weekend.

 Here's the thing. I'm not a very out in front sort of person. Yet, most Friday's you'll find me at shul up front, playing at instrument. I'm a percussionist (the 50¢ word for hitter of things to a rhythm) and I sit on top of my cajon drum, in a white tallis, with rainbow stripes woven into it, and help lead the service. I've been a lay-leader on other occasions reading from the siddur, I've stood next to my rabbi and read words from Fred Rodgers to a full sanctuary.  I've had the honor of doing this as well as being called to the torah, lifting, dressing and carrying the scrolls.

 I've never not been nervous about it.

 So why do it? I like music and it's fun to play with people in real life, and that goes a long way. Someone has to do it, and I don't know any better way to lead than by example is an answer. As a guest, (I'm invited to do these things) I can put aside my fear to elevate my host who believed in me and my ability to do the thing. I'm rarely alone up there. When we're up front we can hear you too, just as you can hear us. I have to look down while I play my drum, it's in the nature of the instrument, so I reach out my hearing and listen for individual voices I know and it bolsters me on. I have my reasons despite the nervousness.

 Still I see a minority of devoted folks who are reluctant. I know many of these people, they are outward and energetic folks our community who come and daven with us every week. Yet when aliyah's are offered they remain frozen. Even group aliyah seem to be a hard stop and few come up to the bimah. We have an old sanctuary with an elevated bimah which isolates you, so we stopped using it and made room on the floor so we'd all be equal and together. The acoustics and folks reluctance to sit anywhere near the front of the sanctuary means the dreaded goose neck microphone.   

 I don't know what the answer is. I don't know how to give folks the comfort to come up close apart from continuing to invite them. To say to themselves, I'm going to hear my voice in those speakers tonite and have a good time here. I don't have the answer to anxiety. I'm anxious when I'm up there too, but found the mix of push and pull that keeps me doing it. 

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