When I was 8 years old, my father and I had to ride a motored outrigger boat to get to another town. A few hours after we left the shore, we noticed a sudden change in the way the boat was rocked by the waves. The sea suggenly got angry. I looked around us and saw no sign of land. It seemed to me like we were in the middle of nowhere. Around us all I could see was the line where the sky and sea meet. Above us the clouds swelled. The boat struggled through the raging waves. But after a few minutes, it’s motor gave up. The boatman tried hard to revive it but did not succeed. So we were left floating in the turbulent sea, praying another boat would pass by. The other passengers seemed worried.
I looked at my father and he just smiled at me. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Come, let’s sing.” And we did, softly. We sang children’s songs, most of them in our native language. The other passengers joined us in singing and we made beautiful music together in the middle of a troubled sea. After a while, a boat passed by. We transferred and were safely brought to the nearest town. The passengers who were strangers to each other when we left the shore parted as friends after the storm.
I look back to that day in the middle of the sea with nostalgia. I remember how singing had changed the spirits of the passengers on that boat, how singing had turn strangers into friends.
So today I sing, even if I am not a good singer. I have always been self-concious about my voice because I know I can’t carry a tune. Sometimes I massacre Vonda Shephard’s “Chances Are” and “Could I Have This Dance” or Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.” I have never sung in public. I had once read a quote which says, one of the bravest things a human being can do is open it’s mouth and sing out loud. I guess I’m just not brave enough.
But I still sing. I sing even if I can’t come close to being brilliant at it. Most of the time I sing when I am alone. For my own amusement. For my own entertainment. I sing when I’m happy. I sing when I’m sad. I sing when I’m troubled. I feel there’s something in singing that can’t really be found in anything else. It’s a relief. It’s a catharsis. It decreases my sense of isolation. It feeds my soul. It restores my bouyancy.
There is a fundamental human need to sing. It is primal. It is an expression of the human species. Players sing to celebrate after winning a game. A jilted lover sings to express his heartache. A mother sings to calm her baby into sleep. Singing weaves the content of human heart and mind, and it is its intimate form of expression. Singing is a blessed thing. So I sing.