It was supposed to be simple. All I had to do was speak up and offer to sell the CD’s to anyone who was interested. People offer their creations to other people all the time. If people appreciate what someone has created, they offer money for it. Everyone wins. Simple, right?
It wasn’t for me. Just the idea of announcing that I had something to offer tortured me. I couldn’t sleep for four nights. Every day I tried to prepare myself psychologically to say the words. Finally, as the workshop was about to end, I decided to give up and stop putting myself through this hell. I would just have to return to Paris with the 200 CD’s, where this story began.
Before I left Paris for the Nonviolent Communication workshop to be held in Belgium, I copied and packaged 200 CD’s by hand. It was 2005, and I had recorded my second album, "Life". This album was a continuation of the expression of my gratitude to Marshall Rosenberg (the founder of NVC) and the inspiration I gathered from my first encounter with myself through NVC in 2004. The last song on this album is a studio improvisation titled “Nonviolent Communication.”
Now, at this time I had no money. The idea was to sell these 200 CD’s to my friends at the workshop and use the money to pay for my travel. But even after all that hard work creating the album and packaging the CD’s myself, I couldn’t get past my fear. If you’ve read this blog post, you know that I had a similar “energy block” to deal with the year before, and how Marshall helped me through it. Obviously, I still had a lot of work to do with myself.
Marshall B. Rosenberg
After arriving at the workshop I gave a copy of the album to Marshall. I also mentioned to Selim, one of the trainers, that I brought CD’s with me to sell. Days passed, and I finally gave up. But that morning, after several sleepless nights, Selim asked to buy 5 CD’s to give as gifts. It was a sign. I said to myself, “I will try again tonight–it’s now or never.”
I made two workshops, morning and evening, addressing this issue. I needed to have the empathy for what I had to do: announce the CD’s for sale. Three hours of empathy, just to do something simple and natural. So much fear.
Finally, I stood up in front of the big group. “I have something to say. There are people here who have known me from the beginning of my musical adventure. May I have some space to introduce you to my music? If you are touched by it…”
I couldn’t finish the phrase. All I had left to say was, “you can buy a copy.” I was frozen in horror.
But Marshall stepped in with kind words. “From the moment you gave me the CD I’m listening nonstop in my free time over and over. You’re offering a gift when you propose this music to people.” When Marshall connected with the idea that he could have contributed to such beauty, he began to cry. Indeed, this music never would have come to be if it weren’t for NVC and his help. He proposed that we play one song from the CD so that the whole group could hear it.
As the music played I shrunk into myself. My head was down, almost touching my knees. I wanted to disappear, just like I had the year before when people tried to express their appreciation for my music. Of course, he chose the longest piece on the album – “Life” – which made my torture last 9 minutes and 46 seconds.
The CD’s were placed nearby and I was encouraged to sell them myself. To take the money and look into the eyes of the giver. People were running to the table because they were afraid there wouldn’t be enough. A friend of mine marked a price on the table – 20 Euros – because to say how much they cost would be impossible for me. You can see how people took great care about me.
Every single CD was sold. I went from having enough to pay for my travel to the workshop and expenses back home.
I still can’t revisit this story without breaking down in tears. I can’t count the number of times I wanted to give up in the last 14 years. But every time I wanted to give up–give up creating, trying to share my music with others, give up performing–someone helped me. I never could have done it on my own. Marshall was one of “my angels,” and there were many others I can tell you about.
When you look at the names of my compositions, you notice that many of them are titled with personal names. There’s a good reason for that. When I feel deep gratitude to a person, the most natural thing for me to do is to put that energy into a song and name it after them. It’s my version of a thank-you letter.
We need each other. Who’s inspired you on your journey? Who encouraged you when you wanted to give up? Leave a comment below and share. To hear samples of the songs in the album “Life” mentioned in this post, click here.