Friday, September 16, 2011

Singing Your Own Song

I recently saw a nice little tale of a bird in a forest who decided that the song he was singing didn't quite hit the spot. Turns out one of the other creatures told him that although the melody was OK, the style and words were not very uplifting - rather too melancholy for the times.

So, to cut a long story short, he went off by himself and practiced for a long time, and made little odd off-key parping noises until he finally worked out how to sing a good song that he had composed himself. And it seems that, after telling him what an oddball he was, and how screwed up he must have been not be conforming, he finally got to perform his song in the forest. And all the other birds and animals gathered round and thought it was a bloody good song, and eventually they started singing....

It seems that the driving force behind his motivation to compose a new song, was a combination of these factors :

  • the song he had been singing wasn't his in the first place. It had been given to him from the start, and like all the other birds, he was expected to sing it
  • the song didn't tally with his outlook on life - it was not a reflection of his true self - his own truth and understanding
  • the song said nothing about him as a bird (person)
So he figured he might just as well compose his own song. And this is where things started to get challenging, because firstly, all the other birds of his species started to exert some serious peer-pressure on him to conform to the status quo. They even thought he had lost it. And they tried some emotional blackmail, under the guise of conformity and comfort with the known - they resorted to the "we've always done it this way" argument. And the parents of the bird almost disowned him - they shook their heads and tut-tutted and decided they couldn't understand the younger bird's motivations.

And his response was to retire from the distractions and noise, to give himself time to think and focus on his mission to become his original self. He made small beginnings - he had to accept that perfection was not the object of the exercise and that with time, the new song would come more naturally to him. And he had to overcome the embarrassment of coming out of the closet of his own originality, in front of all the other birds and animals. But he finally understood that the courage of accomplishment of becoming a composer for himself, was more important than the quality of the singing. And what did he find out?

The more he did it, the better he became at it - practice makes perfect. And then he stopped thinking about how to perform right, and he started to become spontaneous and to celebrate life and love and nature and the wonders of life. And finally everyone else finally figured out that the little guy may just have something. The story doesn't record whether anyone else had the grace to apologize for being a miserable stick-in-the-mud and generally trying to throw iced water over his dreams and his quest to find his own better way. 

But that's the way of life, isn't it? Accept it - people are incredibly hung up with other people who go against the flow. They are bothered about people who don't fit neatly into a pigeon-hole. They are hassled by people who can't be easily classified. It's a bit like having a burr in your shoe - it bothers you every time you take a step - you are constantly reminded of its presence, and eventually it gets to the stage that you have to get it out before you go nuts. 

So what do these people do ? They try to dissuade the dissenter first - because they really don't want their loved one becoming a burr-like renegade who gets under their skin. To hell with how the "aspirant-burr" feels: it's the friend or family member who desires to remain comfortable! Then they try to do a little psychological number on the new composer - they try to convince them that they are a few waves short of a shipwreck. "Yep - you've lost it big time, bud". And then they resort to tradition - "hey, we've been doing it this way for a million years, and smarter people than you have conformed, so you must be wrong!" 

And lastly if none of that works, they disassociate themselves from the dissenter. Mainly because they're concerned about their shoddy reputations ("I don't want to be seen associating with that looney-tunes"), but also because it's just too much like hard work trying to sit down and have a serious discussion, with a view to understanding the other person's point of view (if they did it, it would probably be the first time in their lives).

But, the serious dissenter has to carry on - there is no option. They are driven by bigger things than tradition, and the "unity of consensus" and the need to conform. They are driven by the desire for truth. The need to find themselves as a person. To discover all the nasty, bent out of shape bits, and to understand how they got like that - because unless you do this, you're unlikely to be able to function properly in the future. Try ignoring the grinding noise from the front of your car by putting cotton wool in your ears. Guess what - I'll give you a few more miles and your car will die from a blown engine or whatever. The point is - you never bothered to stop and find out what the problem was, did you? 

Remember the burr? It will always be with you unless you identify what it is, why it's there, and how to get rid of it. And don't expect to walk properly the moment you remove it - you will have to relearn how to walk, before you run. Practice makes perfect. 

And in the process, don't people just looove to stick a pin up your arse with the words "damaged goods" printed on the tag? People have to find a reason why you are behaving like this - gotta have something to blame it on! It's not sufficient that maybe you have had an AHA!- moment. You have woken up after being in a coma for far too bloody long, and you have figured out that the world as it has been presented to you, is not actually the true world you want to live in. So you make a change.

And then people say "Aaah - you must have been hurt by the church", or "You are just all bitter and twisted", or "There there, we know that life's a bitch, but you're just not seeing it properly - take off the dark glasses", or perhaps even "Get over it- life's hard for all of us but we all have to go on, so forget about it - stop dwelling on the past". 

When all the while, maybe all you had was a moment of inspiration when you finally started to put some jigsaw pieces together and determined a better pattern for your life. You found a gem of truth, and followed it to its logical conclusion. And you know what? It's your life. You have to live with it - and hopefully even excel in it - so why not try to make it the best it can be? Nobody else - especially in this day and age - will lie awake for one moment at night wondering if you are singing your new song OK, or if you are right or if you are wrong, and the consequences for you if you had remained in your old (un)comfortable ignorant traditional status quo. 

Remember the burr? Will it stop hurting you if you pretend it's not there?

1 comment:

  1. No the irritation becomes so prevalent that it begins to rub into the flesh
    For me the pointer to actually breaking away or out was by some wise radical many years ago -
    "to thine self be true".

    One is more alone in truth than on the main turnpike. But who would have it any other way.
    The aloneness has a quality and essence that leads to profound gratitude.