To sing or not to sing

Walking the boardwalk on a sunny, summer evening in a seaside tourist town – alone – feels a little like bicycling with one petal or being the only kid at the school dance who never has a dance partner. Places like this – Seaside, Oregon ironically, are meant to be shared. It’s not that one cannot enjoyably breath in the heady, highly sensory ocean ethos of such places on one’s own. I’ve done it many times before. An introvert by nature, I rather bask in the relative repose easily gleanable from such experiences. No, it’s quite simply the much deeper joy of cackling like friendly chickens over a reciprocated love.

There’s just something unnamable, almost intangible, in shared experiences like these. To be with others you know and who know you sprinkles a delight and sweetness on the top that magnifies the joy exponentially. C.S Lewis knew this well and alludes to it in the Four Loves. One’s love for someone or thing amplifies in the sharing thereof. The mutuality of “yeah, I get it” is one of life’s greatest gifts. It is, I suppose, a function of our naturally communal human nature. To share is natural when we love something and find it difficult to articulate to ourselves alone.

Either because I am indecisive when it comes to choosing hobbies or because I am not in possession of anything close to a reasonable ability to say ‘no’ to anything remotely interesting, I have a host of varied spheres in which I have lived, moved and shared. One such world is the reason for my brief sojourn to this little Pacific paradise. I am attending a weeklong workshop for choral conductors.

I have had a profound appreciation for the choral tradition and its sublime repertoire my whole life. I recall with some reverie singing in the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church youth choir as a young elementary school kid. Although a right pain in the ass to the conductor I am forever grateful for her patience in opening the door to music I could never fully describe.

Similar to the annoying guy forever showing pictures of his kids on the subway, I am left with another thing I love to share (foist really) at every opportunity. Even then at around eleven years old I was equally intrigued with Henry Purcell, Johannes Brahms and Palestrina as I was with Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis Presley or Rush. My piano teacher at the time thought it commendable. My parents thought it quaint. To the older kids at school it forever sealed my fate as the tall, geeky brown-noser who perhaps fancied himself a cut above the rest.

Turned up noses meant nothing however as the first notes of some a cappella chamber choir began to nip at the edges of my soul, expanding it to be singed by the burning beauty of voices shared in common cause. For those who have yet to be entranced by such beauty, caught in the choral clutches of grace to which you are a contributor, I pray one day you find it even as I have. We’ll have one more thing whose beauty grows more in the sharing.

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