when i was a child in germany, everyone was singing, all the time. you sang while doing the dishes, at church, with others just for fun, everywhere. waiting at the bus stop, i’d while away the time singing.
paraguay wasn’t much different. my singing repertoire was enhanced by beautiful songs in the native language, accompanied by the paraguayan harp, a small, robust version of the celtic harp. with paraguay right beside argentina, i also fell in love with the milongas, tangos and chacareras of the argentinian pampa, sung by amazing artists like atahualpa yupanqui and mercedes sosa.
in chile, my life was enriched by learning songs like gracias a la vida by violeta parra and many others, all of them passionate singer-songwriters, artists and political activists.
and then i came to canada.
for the first time in my life, i was introduced to the idea of singing in the shower. apparently, that was the only place one was allowed to sing unless one was joni mitchell or luciano pavarotti.
someone sings in the car or hums while puttering around and i hear, “keep it down!”
i was and still am shocked at that. one of the songs i grew up with says, “in a house with song, the devil finds no foothold.”
we all have a voice. we can all make sounds: loud sounds, quiet ones, hissy ones, hummy ones, we can pitch our voice high, “peep”, we can go low, “growl”. our voices can do all that.
ergo, we can all sing.
what a way to stifle a life by saying, “no, you’re not allowed to sing. i don’t like your voice. you’re out of tune. you don’t sound like anne murray.”
when that happens, it’s not just our singing voice that is silenced (and that’s bad enough). our other voice, the “this-is-who-i-am-and-i-rejoice-in-it” voice, hears the message as well and starts doubting itself. maybe i shouldn’t say this? maybe i shouldn’t say that?
the voice that dares not sing its name is the same voice that still needs to heed marianne williamson’s famous call:
our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
we ask ourselves, who am i to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
actually, who are you not to be?
you are a child of god.
your playing small does not serve the world.
there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
we are all meant to shine, as children do.
we were born to make manifest the glory of god that is within us.
it’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
(image by kristina mayyy)