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Things I have learned: Sing it loud and proud

Today’s Wisdom: We don’t just sing; we are the song.”- Louise Penny

By Bill Ward

Spending time in a south Texas RV park, it is easy to see that Winter Texans enjoy a lot of music. Some of the events I attend are jams. This is similar to live karaoke, with individual people coming on stage and sharing a song with the band.

Most of it is old-style country, and the quality of the singing varies from quite bad to quite good. But as I listen, I am struck by the impression that the visuals are all wrong. Here are 75 and 85-year-old men and women on stage singing about being crazy in love, having boots under the bed and standing by your man. In my brain, colored by Nashville and Hollywood, these are themes to be sung by younger, prettier people.

Then I got to thinking about it. Who is the more credible artist, the current popular 22-year-old who has never sustained a relationship for more than four months, or the 80-year-old whose wife or husband is sitting in the audience cheering them on? Who has the better story, the millionaire superstar on a professionally managed tour or the gal who has lived and survived life’s hard knocks and is now singing her heart out for free?

Then I thought about the private moments I got to see in my professional life. I see the faithful husband sitting with his wife in our care facility every day, never missing. I see the grieving wife sitting and holding her husband’s hand as he prepares to depart, her hanging onto him in support until his very last breath. I see love-filled relationships. I see people who have been kicked hard by life, with hard-earned wrinkles and deep wounds, but who have survived to be strong. I see those who have impacted their world in profound ways, and who continue to do so even in advanced age.

The visuals are wrong, but that is okay. They have earned the right to sing, and to sing off key if they want to. And when they do, I will believe them, because they have earned the right for their stories to be heard.

I’m not talking about the lyrics of their particular song. I am talking about “their” story, the one that comes through in their voice, in their courage to stand and sing before a crowd, in their spunk that keeps them engaged in life. And it’s okay if they sing it loud.

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