ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE
I am a sucker for watching talent shows like Britain’s Got Talent, Idols etc. It’s not so much that the performances and new talent but the human element that makes for such interesting viewing. I know that it is often contrived in some way or another but then so is any drama, real or not. Every now and again there is a great story and message like this week on America’s Got Talent when 30-year-old Nightbirde, real name is Jane Marczewski, took to the stage to perform her original song, “It’s OK.”
“It’s OK” is the story of her last year which she spent battling cancer and as she still has the disease in her lungs, spine and liver, she’s clearly not OK. The song was awesome, although the performance was even more powerful when realising her context. As judge Howie Mandel said after her performance “We have singers come on and I think about authenticity....you know when you feel it, when it moves you. That feels like the most authentic thing I have heard this season.” For me, the most powerful moment was when Nightbirde said “You can’t wait until your life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” Wow! I guess that is the reality check that you get when you only have a 2 percent chance of surviving, which is the prognosis she was given. In a style that must surely be unique she said in an upbeat manner, “Two percent is not zero. Two percent is something.” I really got the feeling she believed it.
There are always two things happening in your life. In every moment there is the thing that takes place (objective) and what we choose to believe about it (subjective) and you can only control one of those things: what you choose to believe about it. I am so focused on this right now, perhaps influenced by many changes taking place in my work life or maybe there is a wisdom taking over me (although I care less for the reason and am content to keep this notion and knowledge close to my heart). It’s about deciding how to live and respond and how to know what is the best decision. The phrase ‘am I being lived or living’ comes to mind. The reason that Nightbirde affected me so profoundly was because I know that faced with 2% chance of survival, the ONLY undoubtedly sensible way to deal with this is with positivity and yet so few of us would be able to. Who under those circumstances would have a first stab at America’s Got Talent and do it without self-pity? I really didn’t think she was playing the ‘C’ card, that would have been the producers and why not? It seemed a genuine decision that she has made to look at this from the most positive perspective. She has life and boy does she ‘get it’.
What about you? Do you get it? For myself, it’s still a journey. I try to be more relaxed about decision making these days and what I choose to ‘believe’ about what is happening around me. Previously I could be consumed with nervous energy, fuelled by apprehension, fear and insecurity, so left-brain, worrying and analysing myself to death. Now I am trying to go with my inner wisdom to guide me. Sometimes in the past I have taken decisions that I have umm-ed and ah-ed about because they didn’t feel right and later on realised I should have stopped and listened to my true self - gone with intuition, my real voice. I have learned to make sure that the decision I make is my own, not one contaminated by or pressurised into, by others, conventionalism or untruths...guided by the universe instead of being guided by fear. What I mean by that is following a path that I know I intuitively need. I do believe that we came into this world with so much wisdom before the “education” in conformity we all received as we grew up and entered adulthood, so I am thinking it’s worthwhile to find your way back there.
We are all in difficult times. Everyone has been affected by COVID, and it’s easy to let that affect your happiness. My daughter had a baby, and I didn’t get to see her pregnant never mind experience the birth of my first grandson. I still have to meet him. Business took a knock, travel gone...and so it goes on...all of it feeling like a huge ask from the universe and a sacrifice. Words like ‘unfair’ creep into my thinking with the potential of threatening my happiness, as though life was ever fair. Then comes Nightbirde and it’s a sign not to let things that are out of your control get the better of you. Her philosophy “ you can’t wait until your life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy” is not easy to subscribe to but for me and for all of us that needs to be a work in progress and I am getting better at it.
Its interesting how things which may have worked for me in the past are no longer suitable for the next leg of my journey. Career-wise I have fought and battled my way through long working hours, hustling, making sacrifices. I am in a different place now. There’s a quote that says ‘what got you here won’t get you there’ meaning to have to re-evaluate at every step, just like Nightbirde who was simply growing up and getting on with life till she received what must have been a devastating diagnosis. But instead of wallowing in self-pity and giving up, she tapped on an inner reserve of strength, determination and optimism to fulfil a dream.
And if she can put herself out there in the face of all that she has to battle, it puts the rest of our lives into perspective. As trite as it sounds while there’s life, there really is hope.