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When things are perfectly imperfect - part 2

"Please remember that we only have one chance to make a first impression on someone", I often say to the choir I lead before we have a performance. That is meant to be a light-hearted way of reminding them to lift their eyes from their sheet music and smile at the audience.

But then I suddenly remember the day when I made a first impression on a fairly large group of people and caused a whole choir to stumble. For quite a few years, I was the accompanist to the choir my former piano teacher led. Every time they were going to have a concert, he booked me to be their pianist, and it was always a nice and lovely experience. The very first time I met them was a couple of hours before our first performance together, and we spent this time going through the program from start to finish.

After a while it was time for the concert and I began to play the intro to the first song. The choir started singing and it actually went better than I expected... until I missed a repeat sign in my notes and the whole choir stumbled into what can probably best be described as a collective "gulp". The moment I realized in dismay that I wouldn't be able to save the situation with my piano accompaniment, all I could do was to stop playing. I grabbed a microphone, took a slightly deeper breath than I hoped would be noticed, turned to the audience and admitted, “I'm very sorry! I missed a repeat sign...” And then we started again and the rest of the concert went well and held no drama.

This was the first impression I made on this choir and also on the audience which I later realized was very faithful to their concerts. But we survived it. And the audience didn't seem to think it was a very big deal since they continued to applaud us after every song.

Even today, I do think that we only have one chance to make a first impression on someone, but with the addition that it really isn't the end of the world if it doesn't turn out exactly the way we had thought or hoped for. More often than not, there is a chance for us to repair, explain or start over. And when that happens, we also - maybe even unintentionally and unconsciously - give others permission to find the courage to show more of themselves because it's not a defeat if it doesn't turn out to be "perfect".

Holding the intention that something we do or say will turn out well is not a bad thing, but rather something that can steer us in the direction we desire. But when our idea of ​​how something should be holds us back and prevents us from even daring to take the first step, we may want to look at what that could be about. I am the first to admit how easy it can be to play small and hold back words or actions that might otherwise enrich both our own lives and those of others. But I also know that it can come with a cost to do so.

So if the fear, nervousness, worry or doubt we experience had ears, what would it need to hear in order to feel safe in following what we really want and feel joy for, even if there is a risk of things not being perfectly "right"? And does it make a difference if we choose to say those very words to ourselves - if we choose the thought that it really doesn't have to be perfect in order to be perfect?

In delightful imperfection and warmth,


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