Music is to the soul what yarn is to the knitter – we need it. Over my lifetime, I’ve taken organ lessons without enthusiasm. I wanted to play the piano, but Dad thought I should play the organ. Whatever. There were too many things going on at once with the organ. I’ve never been coordinated so I could move my hands and feet at the same time. I didn’t like it.
I did like to sing. From a young age, as soon as we had a choir in school, I was there. I loved concerts and being part of the group. I really loved doing a solo performance though and got to do many in my junior high school career. My music teacher worked with me and gave me plenty of time for rehearsals. I was always nervous before the concert, feeling like I would rather die than get on stage. Once out there, I was fine. I opened up my mouth and sang.
At one concert I sang a popular song from The Fantasticks, a musical comedy. Entitled “Try to Remember”, the song had just the right key for my voice. At that time, I was a soprano. Oh dear how things have changed.
At our 9th grade recognition ceremony, the one where we knew we were out of that school and off to high school, I sang “Look to the Rainbow” from “Finian’s Rainbow”. I love that song. I also sang all the required good-feeling songs like those from The Sound of Music and other ripping renditions. I liked doing it.
Later in life, after the choir practice was over and my stint as a soloist done, I quit singing. The voice was still there and would land me many a job as a customer service representative because of how I sounded on the phone. I have had customers tell me I should be in broadcasting. I had a gentleman on the phone one evening who asked me if I sang. I said no and he said “I could teach you to sing.” And I’m thinking all sorts of weird stuff – because we did get masher phone calls for sure! He was legitimate though and I should have told him that I do sing. I chant. I chant a lot.
Once I found Krishna Das, my singing blossomed again. To give you a taste of what kirtan is like, here’s a clip
I started chanting with Krishna Das on my iPod back in 2005. We lived in Canada then and had 28k dial-up internet service. An album would take two days to download. It was worth it. My Christmas present was three Krishna Das albums and I still listen to those first three today, although many more have joined them.
While chanting, I have experienced immense joy, so overwhelming that it brings tears to my eyes. I am not only happy, I am ecstatic. I am in my zone, in my center, and I am truly here now. I would chant for an hour or so, hiding myself in our bedroom. I was cautious at first, not wanting to annoy DH and DS with my singing. They got over it and I couldn’t control the volume of my chanting.
My husband, being a stoic, technical kind of person who loved music for its sound quality, learned that I needed to chant to stay sane. He was never one for getting interested in spiritual things and in fact was quite dismissive of my psychic abilities – until I started bringing in the big bucks. Then he got interested! Funny how that worked.
I still chant, still listen to Krishna Das, still find myself overwhelmed with joy. Joy is so much better than its opposite of sorrow – sorrow makes ugly noises that aren’t music ………….