I love quotes that inspire, and among my favorites is Basil King’s “Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” As I was thinking about this the other day, I realized that my dad’s admonition of “If you can’t sing good, sing loud” was in perfect alignment with this philosophy.
Music for me probably started in the cradle. My mother played accordion, my dad played the violin, and they both played piano and sang—and they were just awful at all of these. My dad’s little joke was “If you can’t sing good, sing loud.” Except where some of our family musical abilities were concerned, it wasn’t exactly a joke. And now I think this was one of my parents’ great gifts to us—that freedom to make and enjoy music, and perhaps life at large, without the crippling burden of having to be perfect or even good in order to fully participate.
During my daughter Carrie’s formative years, she would be embarrassed and try to shush me when I would start singing, which was often and anywhere. I had to remind her that public humiliation of my progeny was not only my right but my duty as a parent. Friends have always been much more forgiving and even seem to delight in my tendency to burst into song at the least or no provocation. Their enjoyment seems to escalate in direct proportion to the number of drinks they’ve had.
In Jennifer Garrison Brownell’s delightful book, Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe, she recounts, “I heard a story long ago from a guy who in mid-life embraced mediocrity. I remember he said he picked up the tuba, that he played it terribly and with the gusto that comes from having nothing to prove. He knew he was terrible and he also knew that playing the tuba gave him great pleasure. Eventually he put together a band of others like him, and they played terribly, exuberantly together.”
Sing loud. Do what makes your heart sing—exuberantly. Imperfectly. Boldly.