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On the value of finding one’s art

Coming off choir tour, I’m tired as hell. My voice is ragged and my school work lagged (ha). It was a great two weeks, but I felt every day of it. Living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a bus with my face smeared across the window can only go on for so long, but while we spent a major portion of the daylight hours doing just that, we also saw real, live pineapple/orange hybrids on an honest-to-God tree and the world’s 29th largest hotel. (This may seem unspectacular, but there was an indoor waterfall and river with real boats and real people on those boats.) To be concise, the trip had its wonders, but not all of them were the sights.

When we got back on Sunday, we did our thing for a couple hours, and then reassembled ourselves to get ready for the home concert. Tradition dictates that the choir will have a devotional before each concert, and so, once we were “robed and ready”, we congregated in South Choral to listen to Isaac Lovdahl speak. And he spoke well. “Bluebird” by Bukowski is a lovely poem, and he delivered it artfully. But as Isaac asked us for a moment of silence and reflection before we lined up to go, Kathy, the school nurse spoke up. She had accompanied us on tour, and I presumed she was going to thank us for the opportunity, for the laughs, etc., as chaperones often do. I was not wrong, but I did underestimate the power of her speech. As a non-musician, Kathy told us how impressed she was with the level of music, but more importantly, she shared with us how important and crucial the choir has been to her specifically. She explained something I have never thought of before- the importance of music and its expression of emotion to those who don’t feel able to create it themselves and thus “get those feelings out”. Kathy told us that, unfailingly, whenever she needed comfort and spiritual healing, she would turn to the choir. She went on with many beautiful sentiments, but I will remember her final words until the end of my days. She told us that no matter where we were in life, no matter how we felt, we had impacted her indubitably, and “…this little old lady loves you much…”

Of course we were all choking back tears at this point. The soprano section was an absolute mess. Isaac’s goodbyes as a senior paired with Kathy’s genuine gratitude and expression of love pulled hard at our heartstrings. But this article is not about being an emotional wreck.

Music is not the only art. We’re all gifted with something, and even if it’s just a knack for imitating bird calls or simply listening to a friend, I believe we each have a personal responsibility to the rest of humanity to do our thing to the absolute best of our ability. Painters should paint, poets should slam, and dancers should twirl, because I can’t do any of those things, but they still touch my heart and make it ache with the beauty of it. I was told once that “If you like it, or if someone else likes it, then it’s art.” Catch your footballs and dominate your smash bros, because if you love it, you legitimize it. There are dreams to be chased and old ladies out there who love us, so throw yourself into anything (wholeheartedly). In the words of Amanda Palmer, cabaret punk, author, and total weirdo: “Stop pretending art is hard.”

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