Let me tell you a little story about a great colleague who affected me with one small kind gesture. It all started when I was eating lunch at the Santa Fe opera.
There is this guy I know who is known as one of the icest guys in the opera business. He is incredibly talented and genuine. It’s definitely not Bob Tweten. He also, because we are close, has a funny sense of humor that can be anywhere from incredible clean to a little naughty. Of course with his and my relationship, this doesn’t bother me and in fact he often has me cracking up.
Well, one day at the Santa Fe Opera, I was studying my score for a world premier. I got up to pick up my lunch, which was ready at the cantina, and when I came back to my table, I saw
Bob… ahem, a gentleman writing in my score. He sees me, quickly shuts the book, smirks and walks away.
Now I didn’t know where he wrote or what lewd gesture he put in there. I’m, of course, assuming the worst. It could be a funny insult, a crude picture, PEN 15… who knows. I end up going to rehearsal and as I’m reviewing, I come across the page in which he wrote and this is what I saw:
Needless to say, this made my day! What a kind gesture! He could have been sarcastic when he wrote it, but I don’t think he was.
Choosing Sincere Kindness
This got me thinking about the way in which I compliment other people or have in the past. I can recall many times where I have told somebody that they suck, with the assumption that they know I’m joking and actually mean quite the opposite.
I do this maybe out of insecurity or maybe it gets a laughing reaction and makes me think I’m funny and it’s feeding my own ego. Maybe it’s actually a form of bonding, I don’t know.
What I do know is that a straight forward honest compliment feels great. A straight forward dishonest compliment feels great too! Being nice feels great!
How to be more supportive using a kind gesture
Now, this is something I don’t have the answer to. However, I know awareness is a good place to start. Think of a time when someone has given you a good honest compliment and what that meant to you. Then try to give that same joy to someone else.
So, I’m going to try my hardest to be more sensitive to this issue especially among us vulnerable artist types. You never know who is going to need it.
Oh by the way. It was Bob Tweten.
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