48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Essay #29: restore

In Love on September 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Restore: to bring back to or put back into a former or original state: renew; return
~Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

When I was a kid, I sang with brio, mimicked Flip Wilson, beat on the drums, banged on the piano, dressed up in costume, and put on plays and puppet shows. At one point I specialized in performing – complete with melodramatic arm gestures – Oh! Darling by the Beatles, making my mother laugh until she cried.

Years later, I find myself a victim of nerve-wracking stage-fright. Once the show commences, I’m fine, but beforehand, it’s difficult to breathe. At a recent performance, my friend Deirdre tried to reassure me. “No one wants you to fail,” she said.
I want to believe this.

While working on another website last week, I discovered that the designer had deleted a couple of paragraphs I had written. Please restore the text, I requested. Please change it back.

The word restore caught me, as did the extreme irritation, so I meditated. A few minutes later I realized that I’ve tried to delete parts of me that supposedly don’t fit. Who needs another actor in the world? Another writer? Who am I to choreograph and direct?

During a recent interview, drummer John Marshall quoted his wife, saying, “You have to be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Right.

In Marianne Williamson’s famous poem (quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech), she writes, “our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Despite dreams of Kathleen Battle-type opera costumes, fabulous headdresses, and exotic makeup, my thinking convinced me – for years! – to wear hand-me-downs and cast-offs. Despite earlier success as a performer and writer, I insisted on devaluing my talent and minimizing my skill.

Fear again. Fear of being visible.

Who does this serve?
Not me.
And certainly not you, because then you miss out on my excellent Flip Wilson/Sammy Davis Jr. imitation:
“Here come de judge, here come de judge, here come de judge.”

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