Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jim Morrison taught me how to sing.

Jim Morrison, the artist, the poet, and legendary lead singer of The Doors taught me how to sing. I know this is a crazy notion. He died in 1971 and I did not learn how to sing until 1973. But, it's true.

I grew up in Whittier, California until I was 14 years old. Then we moved to Huntington Beach and as a sophomore in high school, I was the "new kid", a less than enviable position to hold. I missed my old friends and old surroundings. That longing made it harder to make new friends.  Without friends, I had a lot of time to myself and developed new habits, one of which was to come home, put on the headphones, turn on the stereo, and sing my heart out. In particular I loved to listen to the "Doors Live" album and would sing along, with my friend Jim, for hours at a time. The vocal range, the pitch, and tone all seemed perfect for me to sing along to and that is how I learned to sing. Practice. Practice. Practice.

You're probably asking, didn't you know how to sing before? Sure, anyone can sing, but not everyone can sing well, on pitch, on key, and with no flats or sharps.  My older brother seemed to have great musical skills. He could sing and play the guitar. Wow! At one holiday gathering we got up to sing together and I was nicely asked "why don't you let your brothers sing this one." I got the message. I did not have his natural singing ability. In fact I was just no good at it... until I met Jim.

Once I learned how to sing, my world changed. I got involved with the school choir, starred in the school musicals and had found a new way to meet people and make friends.  I also learned much more.

I learned, and wholeheartedly believe, that everyone can sing. People who say "I can't sing" usually don't. How are you going to learn anything if you don't do it? Perhaps you don't sing well, have perfect pitch or a voice like Madonna or Jim Morrison, but you never will ifyou never do it. That was an important lesson and has stayed with me
ever since.

Years later, as my kids approached their teenage years, both felt as I
did: that they could not sing. So I pressured, harassed, encouraged
and sang along with them and do you know what happened? They learned
how to sing, got involved with choir and were in the school musicals.
Our son, who had less confidence in his singing then his sister,
became so confident that when he went to college he started an a
cappella group. Both of our kids learned this lesson too.

Singing is also good for the soul. It is a form of expressing almost
every emotion. Joy, sorrow, excitement, loss, love and so much more.
"That is exactly how I feel" Is how we respond when someone has
already put the words and music together. Singing allows us to
verbalize, vocalize those feelings. Expressing those feelings can only
be good for the soul.

If more people sang, the world would be a happier place. We don't have
to join hands and sing Kumbaya (not that this is a bad idea) and we
don't have to sing today's Top 40. What we can do is sing, sing more, sing out loud and sing because it is good for you.

I like the sound of that. Don't you?

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.                            

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lessons from a dog.

Our dog is extraordinary and wonderful. (Whose isn't?) She seems to be happy all the time. Always ready to play. Always ready for affection. Always ready to go outside or for a ride in the car or for a walk to the corner. I know that if she could talk she would never tell you that it was gloomy outside.

This thought occurred to me this morning when asking about the weather and was told "it is a little gloomy outside."  Not something our dog would ever say. “Outside” is always glorious, a wonderful opportunity for adventure, intrigue and excitement.

Why is that?

Our dog greets every day with enthusiasm and excitement. A new day is a new opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, go new places, play new games and most of all to get her belly rubbed. Even when engaged in seemingly monotonous activities like " fetch", she exudes a happiness rarely seen in people. Maybe there is something to be learned here.

She seems to greet every moment of every day as an opportunity.  Wow! What a great perspective. Do I do that? If not, then what am I missing out on?

Imagine how different life could be if we saw every moment as an opportunity. There is no question that every moment and every experience is an opportunity to grow, feel, learn and much more. The question is what keeps us from being as excited as a dog in greeting every moment of every day that way? I suppose a simple answer is that we are busy, or other things get in the way. Dogs don't have to pay bills, go to work, or be responsible for pretty much anything. If they were, I wonder if they would greet those activities with the same enthusiasm as they do everything else?

As I think about it, my guess is that our dog probably would greet each day, each task and each responsibility that same way. Maybe it is time for me to re-think how I approach every minute of every day.

Maybe “it's a dog's life” isn't so bad after all.

 Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.