Saturday, June 28, 2014

Doing It with Passion

Because a lot of our family time is attending sporting events, I get to hear the National Anthem a lot. Many different versions, many different settings, and many different methods.

Recently, I realized I've started categorizing each rendition I hear.

The most disappointing are the "look at me!" types. The ones who drag it out to twice as long as it should be, showing off all the fancy stuff they can do with their throats. They really seem to be focused on themselves, on being impressive. And on trying to make everyone recognize how oh-so-special they are.

There may be a venue where that's appropriate. The National Anthem probably shouldn't be it, though I do understand that its very nature must make it hard to resist.

Another type is the nervous amateur. They deserve the most applause, IMO. Probably pushed out there by someone or something not completely in their control, singing one of the hardest songs to sing in front of huge, judgy crowds of people. I think that takes incredible bravery, especially when it's kids.

We also have the pros. You know, the military quartets and traveling choirs, the people who sing with quiet confidence, who care as much about the teamwork as the soccer players or football players do.

But then you have my favorites. The people who sing with passion. They don't care about the crowd or how they look or even how they sound. They close their eyes and lose themselves in the music. I think this is why Whitney Houston's rendition is considered by so many to be the best ever. She tells a story with her voice. The song is about the emotions inspired by the events and the symbolism of the song. Yes, she has off-the-charts talent, but how much of it was simply because of her joy in singing?

We should all be doing this. It's not possible, I know, to imbue everything we do with joy and passion. I will never engage in passionate grocery shopping or joyful laundry for example. And it's disingenuous to imply that every job can be approached that way. But I think it's good to concentrate on what something gives us internally, at least while we're creating it, rather than what it can give us externally. Write, sing, dance, play the piano, knit, garden, sculpt, paint, create with passion. It will always make the experience better.

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