Saturday, April 26, 2008

sing a song

Have you ever thought about how much children sing. When they're playing, when they're concentrating, when they're doing nothing in particular, they often sing. Sometimes it is a song they know. Sometimes it is a song they make up as they go along, but they sing. A lot.

At some point in our culture, people stop singing. I rarely sing. Not in the car. Not in the shower. Not when I'm walking. Not when I'm working. Sometimes I find myself wanting to sing, especially when I'm walking as I often listen to my mp3 player while I walk, but I quickly catch myself and don't. And it isn't because I don't sing well. I was a voice major in college after all. I just don't sing. Adults don't sing much in our culture. And when they do it stands out. Have you ever stopped at alight and looked over at the car next to you, only to see a lone driver singing along to the radio? The first reaction is to laugh as if they are doing something that grown ups don't do. Or in your house, a family member is in the shower and over the sound of the water you hear a song... and you look at another family member and laugh as if it is something childish.

That isn't true everywhere. When we visited India, I noticed adults walking down the street singing. They didn't make up songs like children, but they still sang.

Yesterday, I was listening to NPR and heard a short report about the City of Dimen in China and the Dong people. Singing is central to the way the Dong people communicate. They sing to greet visitors. They sing to tell stories. They sing their history. They sing of the beauty of nature around them whether it is imitating the sounds of the cicadas in the trees or just admiring that beauty. The reporter, Amy Tan says, "There's a lot about being out in the field working and realizing that even though your life is very hard and you're working constantly and it never stops, no matter what the season or the weather, there is this beauty."

Here's a video with a recording of The Cicada Song

In singing, the people are reminded to see the beauty and they add to the beauty. Me? Sometimes I see the beauty. Sometimes I take it for granted. I rarely add to it. In that lack of action, I feel as if I've lost something wonderful. Today, I'm going to try to sing a bit. If you see me, promise not to laugh.

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