Do one thing everyday that scares you.
It’s ten years now since I came across a phrase that would change my outlook on life forever.
I’d just done a skydive in New Zealand. In the gift shop afterwards, I stumbled upon a postcard featuring what I now know to be a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: do one thing everyday that scares you.
It’s easy to try new things and to push the boundaries when you are travelling around the globe with a backpack. In the real world though, stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t so easy. That quote however, has stuck with me. I think of it when ever I try to talk myself out of something because I feel uncomfortable. I remind myself that if I can jump out of a plane I can do anything. I then embrace the fear and I get on with it.
It is because of that quote, I have just signed up to take part in a writing project with the Royal Philharmonic Society. Yes, you read that right, the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Now classical music doesn’t just scare me, it bewilders me too. At one time, I would rather have stuck needles in my eyes than sit through a two-hour recital. You see, classical concerts are not for people like me. They are for people with big foreheads, who have a public school education, ride horses and who don’t think David Cameron is a tosser.
A dodgy and judgemental proposition, you say? But you have to understand that I was brought up on Elvis and The Beatles and that kids in my school beat you up if you did anything remotely posh.
Consequently, for many years, I admittedly had a working class chip on my shoulders. I have gladly challenged many of my preconceptions about class, and indeed my own position in society. But when it comes to classical music, well like I said, it scares me.
So taking part in the Philharmonic’s Notes Into Letters project is a brilliant opportunity to challenge my preconceptions, push the boundaries of what is possible in my writing and – well – to see if concert goers really do have big foreheads.
It all starts with me attending a number of performances by the Halle Orchestra. Along with other creative writing students, I will then produce a piece of writing that is inspired by my concert experience. The brief is simple: to attend, listen and see what happens. It’s a fabulous opportunity to explore where a different form of stimulus can take my writing.
And perhaps I can also be part of something bigger. The project recognises that for many, attending a classical concert is not something they’d choose to do. Through translating notes into words, it seeks to build a greater understanding of the genre and encourage participation.
By translating my own unique encounter, perhaps I can help to make the concert experience more tangible, more accessible to those kids like me. Kids afraid to challenge their own preconceptions and believe that it’s not just for the posh kids.