We stood on the sidewalk outside the Orange Cat Coffee Company, watching people wander down the street and parents try to keep their children quiet while playing with a golden retriever puppy on the side lawn. It was a most beautiful Saturday afternoon and Mark and I were taking in the Lewiston Jazz Festival.
I’ve known Jude since I started covering Buffalo college sports and we’ve become better friends over the past year. She works on the financial side of collegiate athletics (she has a great blog called the Athletic Budget Coach, which sadly is experiencing technical difficulties at the moment) but she also has a great singing voice. Typically, she uses her gift to sing in “proper” settings — like weddings or before sporting events.
For a few years, she had talked about performing at the annual late-summer jazz festival with her friend. And they talked about. And they talked about it. They made a temporary plan, but then kind of, well, forgot about it.
Then, about 13 days before the festival, they were literally given a stage. And in 13 days they pulled together an hour-long set of standards along with all the accoutrement for a performance like sound equipment and a name. In 13 days “Accidental Jazz” was born and greeting visitors to the village of Lewiston — one of the first sounds of music to be heard in the afternoon upon entering the festival zone.
Afterward, Jude was beaming. This was something she had always wanted to do. She got to be a diva for a day, to sing what she wanted, to step outside what she normally does when performing.
And I was energized by her joy.
See, there are so many reasons she could have said, “No thanks,” to the opportunity. I mean really, 13 days to prepare an hour-long set of songs? But who said it had to be perfect? They had one rehearsal, read off music and made a few mistakes along the way.
But really, who cares?
If we waited for things to be perfect, we would never do anything.
Accidental Jazz closed their set with a lovely rendition of “What a Wonderful World” and I was trying really, really hard not to be too sappy externally. Because inside my head, my smile was even bigger than the one on my face. It was a beautiful afternoon. I was spending it with one of my most favorite people on the entire planet. I was watching a friend do something she loves. I was happy, healthy and hydrated.
(OK, the hydrated part of my mental wanderings had a lot to do with my training that weekend, but seriously, did you ever see me when I was dehydrated? There would be no happy or healthy without the hydration. Just saying.)
There were actually times during my next long brick when I sang parts of “What a Wonderful World” in my head to help calm me down. The lyrics helped remind me to look around, to take in what’s good and to not struggle against the world around me.
We are T-minus eight days to my first Iron Distance triathlon and there are times the thought of it brings pure panic. I think I’m not ready. I think I should wait until I have more training, more experience or a lower body fat percentage.
But that’s just fear and old voices talking. The ones which want to protect me from getting hurt. I thank for their service but remind them that it need not be perfect. It only needs to be my own.
Indeed, what a wonderful world it is.