Falling in love is easy — until you know it can never amount to much. I reached that conclusion the day I turned sixty – the big six 0, and realized that a two time divorcee, who had little money and not much interest in raising someone else’ children, would never find a good mate of the male persuasion in this life-time.
Now, don’t weep for me. Life is, and you learn from every moment of it, or it’s hardly worth living. Look at the way a new baby puts its entire concentration into studying its fingers and learning how to pick things up. The miracle of a two-year-old, learning how to put spoken language together, with no one to teach him, for goodness sake. Why is it so difficult for the average adult to duplicate that facet of learning? We require teachers and we stumble through endless vocabulary lists, attempting to memorize words and their meanings. It takes us years to figure out how to put it all together, so that we can actually speak that language. It’s as though we have closed down a large portion of our minds.
I suppose the best we can do, the best I can do at this late date, is keep my mind and heart open to what is around me, as an infant does, in order to learn how to negotiate his way through the world. It wasn’t easy to come to that conclusion.
I had never sung in public before. There I was in my mid-fifties, having lived alone for so many years I had lost count of them. Over time, people heard me sing, and told me I should be leading the music at the synagogue I attend. I had been a non-religious Jew, and didn’t know Hebrew, and had not heard the music before. What people said they wanted me to do involved learning the language, and the melodies, as well as getting past my innate shyness. The fact that I had no musical background only added to the fun.
It was a lot of work, more than I really wanted to put into the project at that time. However, I was at an age where I realized that if I did not do this singing, I never would. So I did. I learned how to chant Torah, and I learned how to lead some of the music. There have been times when I felt as though I carried the entire synagogue on the wings of my voice, and times when I wished I had never tried to open my mouth in public. There were times when I felt as though this voice — this voice that no one but me had ever thought was much of anything, had become a burden, as suddenly, it came to light that I had this blessing and it was my duty to share it. It came at a time of life when my voice is changing. I can no longer spend hours practicing till I have every note running clear, like liquid gold, just as I can no longer climb stairs as easily as I once could. Even so, singing is a manifestation of creativity. And for the person whose soul is nourished by the act of tapping into that stream of consciousness, creativity must come out in one form or another, if not many forms at all times.
Building a life is a form of creativity. It is the deepest, most important aspect of creativity. All the rest, whether it be writing, music, acting, painting, or building, is but the scaffolding that holds our lives together.
Twice I was able to create a stir, the combination of voice, singing above on the power of love, as well as opening up to the inner child, for I had no idea what I would sing before I opened my mouth. And then came the work of attempting to live up to those special performances — those times when it had been no one but God and me up there in front of everyone. And always there is the fear that I would not be able to do as well the next time. It comes down to the fact that I love the people I sing for. They are good people and all G-d’s children.
It’s learning to let the artist in me emerge in whatever form comes to hand. It’s all part of letting the heart open to the eternal creation.
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