Embedded in our psyches, we all have a series of scripts that guide our lives. Essentially, these are the stories we tell ourselves about our likes, dislikes, abilities, flaws, etc. Sometimes they’re helpful, as they allow for shortcuts in decision-making. Other times they get in the way, like when we hold on to scripts that are outdated or allow them to limit our opportunities.
One of my personal scripts is: “I’m an introvert. I don’t like parties or crowds.” So when I started a four-week drumming workshop and the instructors said we’d have the option of marching in the Mardi Gras parade at the end of it, I thought, Yeah, that won’t happen. I made a vague commitment to participate in the parade if the weather report for the day didn’t include cold temperatures or any sort of precipitation. Considering it was wintertime in the mountains of Western North Carolina, I felt pretty safe.
As it turned out, my confidence in the region’s crappy weather was misplaced. When the forecast indicated that Parade Day would be warm and dry, my heart sank a little. When my sister said she and her boys were coming to Asheville to watch JR and me perform, I knew my goose was cooked. It was happening. Script be damned – I was going to be in a parade.
And here is why scripts don’t always serve us: the parade was amazing. Thousands of people in colorful, alien-themed garb had come together after a long, anxiety-soaked hiatus, and for the first time in almost three years, I got to feel the buzz of energy that emanates from a joyful crowd. The smiles were huge. The costumes were jaw-dropping. Folks were dancing in the street. I was surrounded by cheers, music, and laughter, and it was awesome.
If I’d followed my script last weekend, I never would’ve seen my nephew flee from a giant CD dragon…
…or watched another nephew become a bead-bedecked Chewbacca…
…or gotten to showcase my fancy new drumming skills.
I wouldn’t have felt the flush of happiness each time kids in the crowd started to dance as our crew passed, their eyes growing huge when they saw the size of our drums. I wouldn’t have felt the warmth in my chest each time we rounded a corner to find a sea of smiling faces. I would’ve denied myself the joy of making music with and for my friends, family, and community.
This experience was an excellent reminder to question the set of stories I’ve chosen to believe about myself, even tried-and-true ones like: Parties Are Kelly’s Nemesis and Parades Involve Crowds, and Crowds Are Torture. Perhaps now I’ll change the parade one to: Sometimes parades can be less than horrible.
That’s progress, right?