So, this morning, I woke up and thought about all the different things that I have to do. I have three exams to do next week, a presentation, work as usual and general stuff around the house. Along with it, over the last few weeks, I have been involved in a musical effort as well.
Those who know me, know how important music is to me and how much meaning it brings too my life. It’s something almost sacred to me. And for some reason, over the last few years, I gave up singing in public. I still sing for myself. But I don’t sing on stage anymore. So when I got a chance to perform this time around, I jumped at the opportunity.
Yesterdays reharsal was a disaster. For two main reasons. One, no one out there had any clarity of what songs to put in a medley. Two, no one seemed to have any constructive suggestions to make. Just a random imposition of ideas and display of their own musical prowess.
At the best of times, I am intolerant of fake. But when I see false humility attempting to obscure arrogance in the world of music, it annoys me. Had I been a few years younger, I would have worn my boots (snow all around) and stomped out in tears. Old and wise as I am, I held my tongue and tried to busy myself with my job. There were people cutting off my singing attempting to teach me how it should be done. And that is the musical equivalent of a back seat driver grabbing your steering wheel or someone declaiming your speech for you in a bid to show you how it’s done.
I held back my annoyance, kept my patience, thanked the organizer politely and came home. All the while, I wondered if I should have let her know I found her behaviour offensive. I told myself I’m being too sensitive and calmed down.
The first thing I saw in my mail this morning was a mail from the very same organizer sending a list of flaws in our performance to the entire group of 20 or so. I am kind of old school. I believe praise should be public and criticism should be private. Being the opinionated firebrand that I am, I could keep my peace no longer and I sent out a mail asking to be excused from performing and gently pointing out that in the world that I come from, constructive criticism was delivered in a far different way.
I wonder now what it is that prompts me to react so sharply to things of late. I wonder if I am becoming less tolerant of the world or more supportive of my own boundaries. This is the second person I have been unable to get along with in the last few months. And there have been more conflicts since I moved to the US than there have been in the recent past.
I wonder if I have changed. If I am now more annoyed and less tolerant or if I am just being more protective of myself. One of the most bitter lessons I ever learned in my life is that if you don’t stick up for yourself, no one else will. If you let people get away with behaviour that both parties know is unacceptable, they will continue to do so. But I wonder if in defendimg myself, I am looking for others to live by a value system that is entirely my own. It’s difficult to draw the line between social norms and personal values. I am led to believe sometimes that it’s ok to judge by socially accepted standards of behaviour but not by personal values.
In the end, I am brought back to the eternal question is it worth it to tolerate something unacceptable just to avoid conflict? Or is it ok to not pretend to like everyone and to get along with the whole world?