Sing Like Nobody’s Listening

Cait loves to act. LOVES to act. And she’s actually pretty good at it. But all her middle school plays are musicals. Which means that to get a decent part, she must also sing well. But, um… she, ah… doesn’t sing well. And that would be putting it kindly.

At least, she didn’t sing well — before I signed her up for singing lessons last year.

I’m not one to get Cait lessons for every little interest or activity. I’m not one to want her to be involved in a zillion things. That’s because I’m a big believer in “down-time.” For a lot of reasons. Not least of which is because I know that creativity, ingenuity, and discovery are more likely to happen if you leave space for them to happen.

So I think Cait was actually a little surprised when she asked for singing lessons and I agreed.

Her singing ability dramatically improved and she got a lead part in this year’s play. We both know that wouldn’t have been likely without the lessons. But the play is over and I’ve let her continue with her lessons.

Yesterday she asked me why.

A million thoughts went through my head, including one of my all-time favorite quotes by one of my all-time favorite authors, Mark Twain. You’ve probably heard a variation of it, but here’s the original:

“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Right after my father died, I worried that I’d never truly feel alive again. I had to fight my way out of a black hole. The only time I had to myself back then was when I took Kiera for her daily walk. We’d head out on our 3-mile route. Once we were out of earshot from neighbors, I’d start singing at the top of my lungs while dancing and skipping down the deserted road. Kiera would jump and sing along with me. After belting out a few of my favorite tunes, I’d invariably feel my heart open back up and I knew I’d be able to breathe for another day.

My dad’s been gone for enough years that I can think of him now and smile without also crying. Maybe that’s as much because, over time, I figured out how to reconnect with him so that he doesn’t feel “gone” to me anymore. But that’s another post.

What I told Cait was that I believe there’s a spiritual power in singing — to open up the chest to breath deeply, to open up the heart to feel fully. And that I loved hearing her sing everyday, and I wanted her to continue to sing everyday for her own health and well-being. And that I believed if everyone sang uplifting songs and danced everyday, the world would be a better place.

Talking with her about this, I realized that I’d fallen out of the habit of singing everyday like nobody’s listening. So I’ve started back up.

So, just a little warning. If you’re around these parts and you see what looks to be a crazy lady walking her dog, apparently spazzing out and singing (not necessarily in tune) at the top of her lungs, you’ll know that, um, you don’t need to call for the men in the white suits.

Speaking of which — when’s the last time you’ve had yourself a good sing?

8 thoughts on “Sing Like Nobody’s Listening”

  1. Michelle O'Neil

    I’m singing in a chorus and a choir these days. All inspiring songs & I love it.

    Go Kate!

    Go Karen!


  2. You know, if your daughter enjoys the lessons, then they are well worth it. I would continue with them too, they could stand her in good stead later and could be an avenue for making friends as an adult.

  3. Keep on singing Karen! Since my daughter arrived I find myself breaking out in song all over the place, the car, the grocery store, Lowe’s…..

  4. Thanks Heidi. Hope it serves you as well as it has me.

    Cindy, one of my other favorite quotes is “This too shall pass.” You’ll come out the other side as an even better more amazing person than you already are. And what is it about Christmas carols? Singing them almost always makes me cry. Just hearing that you hit that high note makes me want to cry… :)

  5. Karen, I love how you are raising your daughter. Your opinion about not cramming her life full of activity is spot on. Your feeling, way back when, that felt like you couldn’t imagine be fully alive again, well, I know how that feels right now. And asking, “when’s the the last time you had yourself a good sing”? It was this last Christmas Eve, when I sang in the choir, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, I took the descant at the end and hit the highest note in all it’s splendor. I nearly cried from the way my heart felt then, totally open, unabashed and whole. I will find my voice again. Thank you for this post……

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