It’s that time of year: the post-Grammy dirt is swirling like a gossip dust devil. As I was catching up on some recap action I came across the weekend’s famed George Michael tribute by Adele. I suppose things are more scandalous when you’re watching them in the surprise of the moment, and maybe it helped that the video had been edited to omit the bad words tumbling from the lips of Planet Earth’s most vulnerable, angel-faced sweetheart, but the drama of the moment is definitely not what struck me.
What did strike me was the voice of a woman in the audience—after the music had been cut, as the diva herself stood there looking something like bewildered or frustrated or totally heartbroken—a small voice shouting from the crowd, “You got this!”
It seemed like for a moment in time everyone was simply human. Superstars were allowed to make mistakes, TV extravaganzas could be stopped in their tracks, time could stand still for just a few seconds while thoughts were collected and audiovisual teams scrambled and the whole audience forgot for a few blinks . . . forgot to forget that we’re all in this together.
“You got this!”
The camera didn’t show who was shouting. I wondered if she was decked out in diamonds, or had a bunch of tape holding things together behind a designer dress, or spent half the day getting her hair and makeup done so she would be camera-perfect. But none of that mattered. She took the cue; compassion kicked in and whatever decorum may have been standing there became fully and unashamedly real.
From the little 4-inch frame on my screen, it looked like all that encouragement from the audience was needed too.
We all know the rest of the story—the show went on, the singing was flawless, the tears were real—but I think there’s a good lesson in it for all of us: you could be at the top of the freaking planet, get up in front of millions upon millions of viewers, many of whom worship the ground you walk on, and have them all wrapped around your finger on the first note . . . but you’re still just a person.
What does that mean? Well, as much as you should try to make every show your best one yet, not every show will be your best. Some nights you’re gonna trip or drop stuff. Some nights other people are gonna trip or drop stuff on you. Some nights there’s just gonna be too much going on in that heart of yours to be able to keep it all together in a polished, perfect little package. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s why we choose art, isn’t it? That’s why we become musicians and writers and painters and sculptors and dancers—because we know that the soul is really all we’ve got; that the human part of us, sometimes the worst part, is also the best.
So the next time the stage lights are too hot, your nerves are running wild, the crowd is too big or too intimately small, or you’re laying into your ride cymbal when all of a sudden your stick flies out of your hand, just remember: