An Optimistic Outlook for 2016

This past year was a pretty monumental one as far as life changes go, and no matter what happens now, 2015 willRegardless of what happens in this city, it will forever be the year I got up the courage to move to New York City, a decision I'd been skirting for years.  But a lot of tiny events came together to make it happen, and I am so grateful to those events and those people who were a part of that, and to those who make it a place I still want to be.

I'm grateful to Kirk and Heather, who provided a place for me to get my bearings and were my ambassadors to this real life Emerald City.  I'm thankful for my dear friend Leslie Carrara Rudolph, who is a constant source of mirth and heartfelt support.  I'm thankful to my family most of all, who have given my little dog a perfect second home and told me to "go for it", in spite of the fact they worried for me, and probably continue to worry for me.  I'm grateful to my dear friends in Austin, who have been such a lifeline when I'm roaming the streets of New York feeling a little untethered.  I'm grateful to my new friends here, especially those at The New York Transit Museum, for showing me what amazing things are here.  And, I'm grateful to whatever it is in me that decided to do this after fearing it so long.

For years, every time I hear or read or otherwise encounter that quote about your heart's desire being found in the thing you fear most, I would think "yep, that's probably true".  I also knew without giving it much thought, what I feared most and wanted most.  And then I would go about planning a future that did not include my coming face to face with that deep desire and deepest fear.  Chicago?  Possibly.  Seattle??  It's a thought.  New York??  Not possible.

It's safe to say that if Kirk and Heather hadn't come here first I may never have gotten up the guts to do this.  My idea of what's possible for me has been limited by fear and doubt.   It's a daily struggle to stretch those limitations, and sometimes t's easier to give in to television or sleep or donuts than it is to move forward, but it is happening.   When these efforts feel pointless I'm often reminded of a quote from the book From Beast To Blonde, one I read more than fifteen years ago and that I've spent a lot of time trying to relocate (it's a behemoth of a book).  It's probably the most inspiring and comforting quote I've ever read, and I can't begin to paraphrase it aptly, but it spoke about fairy tales, specifically Russian fairy tales, and how the most common theme in them is that if you declare your intentions and have faith to step out into the world, the world will come to your aid in unimaginable ways.  It's seen again and again when the young boy or girl, underestimated by a world that favors brute strength, ventures on a quest, shows kindness on his or her journey, and is aided by those she helps along the way.  Every time in the past when I had a tough decision to make, and asked myself "should I?" I've thought of that quote, and whether or not I had the courage to follow its advice, it shaped so many of my decisions.  I know there's a much simpler quote (a bible quote?) but for me, it was never said better than in that book that I happened upon back then.

So, I'm grateful to be here, feeling the feelings, and I'm attempting to be grateful even for those experiences that have been far from pleasant.  But what now?  Well, for one, I'm committed to making further advances in my creative journey.

A few days ago I had my first session with a pianist that was so encouraging.  There have been times in the past few years when came to doubt that I had any vocal chops, or that I could make my way through this crowd of talent.  To feel somewhat championed by a talented, new to me face who has heard a lot of singers, gave me a much needed boost as well as some terrific advice on the crafting of my "book" (the book of sheet music that goes with me to each audition) and how to tailor it to what I have to offer.

My next step will be an audition for a straight play coming up on the 22nd of this month, followed by a musical audition for agents.  It's an ongoing climb, but I'm keeping the faith that the climb is worth it, no matter what.
Joe Hartman