Sing Your Own Song

IMG_0354During our recent trip to Ireland, my husband and I went into an Irish pub in hopes of hearing some authentic Irish music.  And while the pub did have a young man singing that night, he didn’t play the traditional Irish music we had hoped to hear.  Instead, he played a wide variety of familiar songs, and at one point he even launched into a medley of Johnny Cash’s greatest hits.  At first, I was annoyed that he wasn’t singing the songs I wanted to hear, but after a while I just relaxed and enjoyed the music.  He played a mean guitar and had a beautiful voice, and eventually I realized that what he was doing was singing exactly the songs he wanted to sing, and singing them very well.

Maybe it was the two glasses of wine, but I began to think that there might be a lesson for all of us in that pub.  The young man could have played it safe and served up exactly the sort of music that most tourists want to hear when they enter an Irish pub, but he choose not to do that.  Maybe he wasn’t good at performing traditional Irish music, or maybe he simply didn’t care for it very much.  Maybe he knew that the city of Galway is full of pubs that cater to its many tourists, and felt that he would stand out from the crowd more if he performed a different kind of music.  I didn’t ask him, so I’ll never know.  But I got the sense that he was pouring his heart into the music he chose to sing, and because of that his performance was so good that my husband and I stayed and listened to him much longer than we had intended.

Not all of us can sing or play an instrument, but I believe that each and every one of us has something unique to offer.  We each have our own individual perspective on things, our own unique gifts and our own special way of viewing the world around us.  I have gone to several of those popular painting classes where the teacher shows everyone (no painting talent needed, thank goodness) how to paint a particular picture.  And even though we are led through the process step-by-step, I am always amazed at how different our finished pictures look.  Even with the same subject, the same paint colors and the same teacher, we all come up with something just a little bit different, and that is uniquely ours.

There will never be any shortage of people in our lives who want to tell us exactly how to act, what to believe, and how we should use our creative gifts.  And sometimes its very tempting to listen to them in order to feel the acceptance and validation that we all tend to crave.  But when we do that, when we ignore our own truths and mimic someone else’s, or when we paint the picture, write the story, or sing the song that someone else wants us to, we are turning our backs on the essence of what makes each of us a unique and worthwhile individual.

I think it’s important to trust our own perceptions, to believe in our own visions and to stand in our own truths, and to share those with others, even when we’re not so sure how they will be received.  One way or another, we all need to “sing our own song” with courage and conviction.  Even if that means belting out a Johnny Cash medley in a traditional Irish pub.

38 thoughts on “Sing Your Own Song

  1. So, I just have to tell you that I cracked up reading The New Me. Comments are closed so I’ll risk putting them here. I love your assessment of yourself. I quit coloring my hair two years ago, and have never looked back. I could care less what people think. My hair has never felt healthier. It also thickened a bit. Who knew?!!? Anyway, loved that post. And, I think I’d also enjoy Johnny Cash Irish style. 🙂

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    • I have to tell you, it was so odd to hear a Johnny Cash song sung with an Irish accent! And several of the locals were singing along… But I loved it!
      As for my hair, I still dye it, but I’m just waiting for the iron grey color to fade into a more silvery grey (and I’m getting there…) until I just let it go a natural color. It is so hard to think of ourselves as old, or even older, but I have found that acceptance does come, if I am patient enough. And there are definite advantages to identifying as an older woman, too! Thanks for all your support and comments! I’m so glad that we have connected!

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      • Yes, it is hard to think of ourselves as getting older or even the word old has me fretting. I watch my 87 year old mother in Independent Living and think…how long before this is me? Hard stuff. I let my hair grow out because I was SICK AND TIRED of spending the time and money on something so fleeting; at least that is how I began to see it (after years of coloring, perms, and processing). I am very lucky in that my hair is blending on its own, I have not had to streak it at all to blend as it comes in. The odd thing I never expected is that my husband loves it. He asks me each time I go in for a cut, “You’re not going to color, are you?” Says it’s “fetching.” HA! 🙂

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        • I bet that is liberating, and it’s wonderful that your natural color looks so good on you! I think it will be more of challenge for me, as my husband has made the occasional comment about not particularly liking grey hair. But I know he will support me when I decide to quit coloring mine.
          I just visited with my mom today, and boy can I relate to the “how long before this is me?” sentiment! Time passes much too quickly these days…

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          • Well, he likes my hair better than I do, at least right now. We’ll see if he changes his tune when it is totally white. 😉 I may take up wearing hats and very, very large sunglasses. 😉

            On one hand, it’s fabulous that mom lives where she does, has so many friends, and is doing so well. On the other hand, I see illness all around her and this gets to her, too. Her best friend died last year on Mother’s Day. As she says, it’s just a part of her life now. At least she is a realist! How old is your mom?

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            • My mom will be 86 this July. She still lives independently, but we monitor that situation and when she needs more assistance, we’ll see that she gets it. I’m sure it’s hard to see your Mom dealing with the deaths of her close friends, and I’m sorry about that.
              And never, ever, underestimate the power of really large sunglasses! Mine get bigger by the year.

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            • I am glad, though, for mom’s acceptance of the reality around her. Mom (87) lives in Independent Living, and her friend that passed did not live there; however, it was pretty hard, losing this friend. They knew each other for 49 years. 🙂 Her daughter and I brought our two families together when we were in 2nd grade. Such close ties. Have a great day, Ann.

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    • He really did, and that is what gave me the inspiration for this post. All I kept thinking was, “Good for you for singing the songs you wanted to sing!” When someone follows their heart, the result is always worth paying attention to, I think.

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  2. We stumbled upon a small music festival a couple of years ago in a small town along Galway Ba. Imagine our surprise when the band was playing Elvis Presley and other American hits of the 1950s and 1960s! It reminded me of how connected we all actually are – how imposing our own expectations upon other people rarely leads to positive results. We resolved to just enjoy it, and we did! (Although I have to say that it sounds like your musician was more talented than ours were!)

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  3. Great post. The older I get the more I do what I like. I have to say that when I was in northern England and Scotland, I thought the traditional music sounded like Appalachian Blue Grass, which is the area the Scotch-Irish settled in the US. Maybe singing Johnny Cash completes the circle.

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  4. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Ann, about finding our own unique way of doing something. Let me reassure you too that when I’m let loose with a guitar, it sounds like nothing else on earth. (I don’t like to feel myself bound by petty conventions, such as using a recognized musical scale or singing in tune.)

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    • True, while it’s always important to “sing our own songs,” some people’s singing is probably a bit more pleasant to listen to than others. I’ve never been complimented on my singing, although I was once told that I had a “good, but limited range” by my junior high music teacher. I’m pretty sure she meant I could hit the entire range of notes C to D.
      But if you are ever playing the guitar and singing in a bar, I would be glad to sit in the audience!

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    • Thanks! I was surprised when we first climbed into a cab in Dublin, and I recognized every single song that was coming from the car’s radio. Music really has become international.

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  5. That must have been quite the experience hearing Johnny Cash in an Irish pub but that’s what we want isn’t it? Authenticity. Sometimes that authenticity isn’t what we thought it might be but as you say, it isn’t for us to judge.
    As an aside, I was reading a book today that discussed JFK’s visit to Galway in 1963 and how much the locals loved his visit. Apparently his photo is still hanging in several pubs.

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    • Yes, it took me a while to “get it,” but it actually was authentic! And that’s what got me to thinking how important it is for each of us just to “sing our own song.” Because that way, we’re giving the world the best that we have to offer.
      We visited the Galway Cathedral while we were there, and were told that it was built mostly with donations from the Kennedy family. I thought they said John Kennedy, but my husband thinks they were referring to his father. And since the Cathedral was built in the mid-1950s, that probably makes more sense. Still, they were very grateful for the Kennedy’s generosity! And we did see a sculpture of JFK in Phoenix Park.

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  6. Our daughter took a summer course at the university in Galway, which was how we had learned of the city and why we wanted to visit when we went to Ireland. It really was a fun town, and my husband tried his first Guiness there! I was very surprised to hear country music in Ireland, but you are right, it’s obviously very popular. Every time the singer sang a Johnny Cash song, most of the people in the bar (the locals) sang along!

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