Monday's ordinary thing is singing along. Once I was traveling with someone I admire very much, a scholar and performer both young and mature beyond her years, Antonia. Some folksy ballad was playing on the car stereo, and feeling breezy, I sang along. Antonia looked uncomfortable. "It's hard to hear the music," she said, and frowned, trying to be polite while suggesting I stop singing.
I wasn't singing very loud, and honestly, not very badly. Antonia, a perfectionist, had never sung in all the hours and hours we'd spent together. Her dominant belief was, Let the professionals do it. Suddenly I became very angry that one so young had been sapped of joy and musical delight, participation on a pure, heartfelt level. I wasn't sure if it was academia, or her own self-imposed rules that gave her this idea, but in a moment I glimpsed how she had been duped, and I jumped onto a soapbox, for which I hope I've since been forgiven.
Yet I still believe what I told her. Society has removed singing from American gathering places and dining halls, unlike the Europeans who break into song at the pub, lifting their glasses, stomping their feet. We have removed the experience of music and become spectators only, critics and qualifiers and those who know it all but can never do more than crank up our Ipods or switch on "American Idol."
Same with painting, dancing, writing a poem, doing a comedy routine. Much of creating has been wadded up and stuffed into a duffel bag, hidden in the car trunk for a some day that will never come.
The best part about singing is doing it - in ordinary life, perhaps in an ordinary voice. Singing is the natural overflow of the heart. All children sing. Singing connects to faith. Why stop? You deserve to sing, just as you are sung to.
Where have you held back, criticizing or observing art rather than participating?