Baba the StorytellerYesterday I had a performance at a festival held by the City of La Palma here in Southern California. It was well organized. I had received a packet containing parking passes, maps, schedules, etc. This was a really good sign.

When I arrived at the park where the festival was held, I parked and headed to the performance area. As I was walking, there were the unmistakable sounds of a Heavy Metal Band performing on stage. The closer I got, the louder the guitars, drums and vocals got. The small amphitheatre had an intimate; close to the audience look to it. The group of about six kids in this band was performing their lungs and hearts out.

I have to admit, I’ve never been one to kick back and listen to Heavy Metal in my earphones or around the house while cleaning. The band’s audience was sparse. There were maybe four or five people seated a few feet from the stage. This didn’t matter; they performed as if there were thousands before them. I liked that.

The only thing that was a bit disturbing to me was that I was the act that had to follow these kids. That was a bit unsettling. There has never been a time in my career as a storyteller that I had to follow a Heavy Metal Band. This was a first.

I retreated to a tent they had set up as a dressing room and started trying to figure out a strategy for following this act. Somewhere between panic and serenity, it hit me. What was it that I was stressing about? It hit me that I was sitting here creating stress for myself for no reason. I do what I do and I do it well, I told myself. Instead of focusing on what I might need to do in this situation, I gave myself permission to celebrate my accomplishments and the fact that someone had the confidence and wherewithal to invite me to this festival. This shift in focus had a profound effect the way I was felling.

I won’t go into all of the detail but I will say the show was a great success. There were, literally, about 150 or so people who made their way to the amphitheatre while I was performing and sat close to the stage. In the back areas I saw children sit down in the big blown up jumping houses and castles and listen to my music and stories. Talk about euphoric. I was filled with a great feeling that I can’t really describe (yeah, I know, me a storyteller at a loss for words).

To look out into the crowd and see everyone smiling, laughing was incredible. To see the elderly seated next to children and their parents, to watch teens, voluntarily, come and sit close to the stage and enjoy the music and stories was simply awesome!

This was one of those crossroad moments for me that I won’t soon forget. I didn’t sell a single CD, but I think I got a greater value and lesson out of it just the same.

Dooni, dooni kononi bé nyaga da.

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