With arms wide open
Part of my difficulty stems from the tiny fraction of visitors to this site. Of these, there are even fewer people who respond to my posts. Despite the fact that I'm not some narcissist who needs approval or constant attention from the entire world, I do have a hard time motivating myself to write when there's only 1 person who comments here regularly (I hope he knows just how much I appreciate that).
A good friend of mine who reads this blog told me "you write so well that I never know what else to say". Others tell me in person that they enjoyed something they read the other day. It's come to the point that I never remember who reads my blog and who doesn't - which is fine (I promise!) but after spending an hour writing something that you hope will get a reaction from the world, which then shows 1 comment - you do find yourself losing interest in your own opinion.
During high school, my friends and I were very involved in music. Playing instruments, singing, participating in choirs and school plays, we were constantly immersed in it. Two of our friends were singers who would regularly get solos, sing in bands or get lead parts in plays - they were The Singers of the group. I desperately wanted to join them. Ever since I was little, I've loved to sing, and having been blessed with an ear for music, can usually stay in pitch. After years of singing in the church choir, I finally forced myself to ignore the dark whisper of stage fright and tried out for some things. My best friend always told me I had a great voice, and to this day she encourages my singing (even though I'll never try out for Canadian Idol like she tells me to), but nobody else had much to say. I interpreted this to mean that my voice wasn't really much of anything, and despite a few moments in the spotlight, kept back and let The Singers do most of the performing.
Yes, this was certainly my hang-up. The problem was compounded by another girl in our group of friends who thought she was fabulous, but couldn't seem to hold the pitch of a note for longer than a beat, and took on a screechy quality when hitting the high notes. But everybody (myself included) told her she was great because we loved her as a person. The lack of reaction to my own singing started making me wonder whether or not previous compliments had been as false as the ones we'd kindly passed to our other friend.
To this day, I still hold myself back - unable to just let it go and enjoy the feeling of joining together with a great song, lifting my voice and celebrating every note. There are very few people who have ever heard me really sing.
Today, I read a post Sully wrote about how grown-ups have forgotten to feel the joy of a moment the ways kids do. Playing in the rain, running so fast that you feel like your legs are going to fall off, laughing so hard that you get tears in your eyes and a sore stomach. Now we worry about getting our hair wet, or looking silly as we run, or whether or not people think we're uncool.
His post reminded me of singing on stage during a school play - getting lost in the character was easier than trying to sing a contemporary song - I stood proudly, voice raised, the regular world outside of the bubble of the story we were in. During the chorus, my eyes drifted to the audience where The Singers were sitting. Flashing a grin at them, I expected a knowing smile back - they were my friends after all. Instead I saw coolness and something close to irritation in both of their eyes.
Luckily my parents raised a confident daughter. Not giving a damn about their lack of support, I finished the night's performance without another thought for either of them. But when the night was over, I remembered. And gradually I let the doubt overshadow the joy of performing.
It's experiences like that night that make us forget to enjoy life the way children can. A friend of mine has a daughter who lives her life in a song. She's always singing - even her conversations are musical. Will she still be so joyful and upbeat at 20?
This past weekend Jay and I went to visit his family for the annual Canal Days festival. A weekend of live music, great conversation, exploring the waterfront, drinking beer under the stars, and all sorts of other great things - we enjoyed every minute while waiting for Sunday night's fireworks display. Every year the fireworks are incredible, and this year was no exception.
Settling down with chairs, we watched the sky explode with colour.
Each year, the people who put on the display pause after a particularly amazing set of fireworks, tricking the thousands crowded along the Canal into thinking the show is over. The second time they did this, a group of people in front of us immediately jumped up, grabbing their chairs and dashing back to the road. They were in such a hurry that they almost missed the third set.
Shaking our heads at how impatience rules the lives of so many, we looked up as a series of blindingly bright lights careened through the black sky. There were so many fireworks going off that nobody knew where to look. As the noise and colour continued, I looked over at everybody, seeing utter awe in their eyes. Aunt Kim was grinning ear to ear, an expression mirrored on all of our faces. Jaws dropped and hands clapping, I remember thinking that this moment was one of that rare joy that you feel deep down in your belly.
Tired, over-worked, even cynical adults sat there that night laughing like carefree toddlers. In those few minutes we were free from everything.
I'm not sure what the main point of this post is supposed to be. It took on a lot of twists and turns, including a direction that was completely unexpected. If I was to boomerang back to the beginning, I guess it would be to say that I'm still blogging because of where the process of writing takes me. And things it teaches me. That if you don't have a comment to this post, don't feel obligated to write one - I didn't write about that as a guilt-trip.
If you're reading this, I'm issuing you a challenge: go out and play in the rain. Climb a tree. Do a cannon-ball jump into your pool. Chase your dog through the park. Dance and sing like nobody's watching. Do something that makes you feel like you're five years old with a gigantic bag of candy in your hands and a best friend to share it with. It's easier said than done, yes, but take a moment to LIVE. And while you're enjoying that moment, don't let anyone or anything stop your fun.
And if you're a blogger, write about it. We need more stories like that.
That's all for now...