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happy feet and voice

Shortly after watching the movie, Happy Feet (in which every penguin is encouraged to find their voice), I found myself singing around the house one day and started in on one song, “Ain’t No Sunshine“, and to my surprise, sang with a power and depth and quality to my voice that I had never heard before. Where did that come from? I have always been somewhat self-conscious about my voice. It is low and round, without any edge, having a rather small but consistent range - good for harmonies but not so great solo. I love to sing but have always wished I had a better voice. Anyway, this small kitchen solo made me wonder if I had in fact been holding back on my voice all this time. Then a few days ago, Dean told me that my voice sounds best in its lower, sultry registers. I often tend to push my voice up to some higher notes because I love those peaks in a song, even if I have to strain to get them, and his comment made me realise that always going for the high note might not be the best sound.

So last night while driving, singing, and car dancing to a new CD I received for Christmas, I started to think about the tension between going full out (hitting those high notes at full volume) and just singing mezzo-piano in a comfortable range. I often assume that I must live life at full tilt, or at least hit those power notes frequently in order for me to be reaching my full potential. All this straining is not necessarily a healthy picture of whole-heartedness. A song consisting only of all-out vocals gets tiresome to the ears very quickly. A painting of only the loudest and most vigorous colours and brush stokes leaves your eye confused and fatigued by all the flurry of activity.

Balance. A well balanced meal includes fat and fibre, light and heavy, solid and liquid, protein and vitamins and sugar. A well written song has a story to tell, a melody to weave, an ebb and flow that takes me with it. All out does not equal all in. I can sing the simplest, quiet, low note and put my whole being into it without screaming. In my boxing workout DVD, the point is not to flail my arms and legs with all my might, but to train my body for accuracy, focussed power, and timing.

So often when I feel a surge of the grace and life of God swirling around me, I want to respond in some grand and fitting manner and find my body and mind sadly lacking when it comes to a catalogue of expressions that convey the depth of my feelings or thoughts. I suppose I could choose to trust that the creator has given me all the equipment I need to house and express his touch and glimpses of glory, and simply let myself be me: riding on the spirit of holy creation, singing those medium-range G‘s with confidence and passion, painting those beiges with tenderness, lifting my fingers in a simple fluttering dance of invitation, saying one word with conviction, and letting God be in charge of the volume control.

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