My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
How can I keep from singing?
Unknown, “How Can I Keep From Singing?”
Music has always been a part of my life.
There’s a story my mother tells about when I little more than a toddler, about 4 I think, and there was some sort of outside concert where the pastor’s wife was up on a platform singing and I positioned myself just underneath her as if it was I who was the performer.
Then there’s the tape somewhere in my belongings of little me singing my version of ‘Edelweiss’. I didn’t realize that the song already had words at the time. The melody played by the porcelain doll was instrumental, so I made up my own lyrics.
School choir, church choir, homeschool music class – I did them all. I learned to sing art music and hit my first high A while practicing ‘My Johann’ on the way to audition for the Union University music program.
For a period of my life I was immersed in music. Even as I studied theatre, almost every role I played has me singing – whether it was supposed to be me or not.
Then life happened.
At 10 months out of college I found myself in a full-time 50-60 hour a week job in town where I didn’t really know anyone and there was no time for music or theatre or even, some day, it felt like breathing. That is not to say that there weren’t parts of my job that I didn’t love or that I didn’t know going in that it was likely to be that way.
In part it was a test. I had a theatre professor in college who told us on several occasions that if we could do anything else and be happy that we should do that thing instead. I felt that I needed to try to do that other thing and I failed that test. It was one of the first things that I thought when I was diagnosed with depression in the fall of 2008 and handed a prescription for pills with the strong warning that if I chose to fill it it wasn’t something I could just stop taking.
We all have defining moments in our lives and that was one of mine. This post isn’t about that though.
Not long after that I returned to my performing roots through our local community players and the first time I opened my mouth to sing it was like homecoming. Like the sun had come out from behind shadows I hadn’t even realized existed or, really, like I had locked away some part of myself and become whole again.
Awesome as it would be, I can’t say that I support myself through music. I have, however, welcomed it back into my life both through the occasional musical with our community theatre and as a part of my church’s worship team. I even get up at 7:30 am on Sunday morning for the privilege of helping with worship and I am not a morning person. I do it because I love it and when I ‘m singing I feel like I am more myself than I ever am in most places in my life.
Perhaps music isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s mathematics or drawing or playing with bubbling viscous liquids. Whatever it is – claim it, recognize it and embrace it. If you don’t know what it is – find it and live it. It was never promised to us that life would be easy, but easier it is when you are doing the thing that you love and makes you whole.
Sing through me
Stir the tigers in my blood
Set me free
Like a river rising up in flood
Fuel the fire
Of my desire
Fan the flame inside of me
And sing through me
Jason Gray, “Sing Through Me”