Dedication

One of my neighbors has made a habit of heading to the weed-choked field next to our apartment building to sing at the top of his or her lungs. The weeds are so tall they hide him or her from view. Perhaps that is a mercy. This person is tone deaf, with a high, screechy voice that defies an immediate gender assignment. (I suspect this person is male, however. So, for the sake of avoiding him/her and he/she from now on, I’ll just go with male pronouns.)

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The weeds

The first time I heard the voice, I thought I was hearing a cat yowling.

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He is not the mystery singer.

Nope. Singing. I think he sings pop songs. Once, I recognized the words, “Baby, ooo, baby,” but nothing else, since he uses a language different from my own. (Not Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian, or French either.)

The other day I waited to see if the singer would leave the weeds so I could finally identify him. That attempt was doomed to failure, however. He seemed to want to remain hidden in the weeds until after I left. I wondered if even a glimpse would prove embarrassing or would scare him away. This person is as elusive as a fawn.

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As I headed inside after listening to him for a while (I tried to record his voice, but that failed too), another neighbor headed out. After stopping to listen to the singer, he shook his head, laughed, and proclaimed, “He’s terrible! . . . I can’t believe he does this every day!”

Every day. Despite having a less than melodious voice—at least according to the common opinion of others.

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Why does he do it? The obvious reason is because he loves doing it. Perhaps singing brings him joy.

These days, many of us are so conscious of the opinions of others. We edit our work, put on makeup, and even take several practice selfies before posting to Instagram to avoid the negative opinion of someone else. How many times do we offer the plain, unvarnished version of ourselves to anyone? Also, how many times are we tempted to stop doing something we love, because someone else has expressed disapproval?

The singer in the weeds does his thing day after day, despite opposition. Do you?

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Singer and sun from clipartpanda.com. Calendar from clker.com.

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49 thoughts on “Dedication

  1. Love this post, Linda! As someone who plays no instrument and can’t carry a tune, I find all my musicality goes into my writing. I can’t submit, publish or even write anything without reading it OUT LOUD over and over to hear if it “sings.” We are, all of us, “singers in the weeds.”

  2. Really curious about why he does that, but I figure it isn’t our place to know. It is a little sad that we have to hide our true selves from the world. Have to be 100% professional and mature at work. Get strange looks if you wear stuff that isn’t for ‘your age’. The Internet has probably made it even worse because you never know when some random person will snap a picture or video of you to post online. Maybe we all need a field of weeds to hide in from time to time.

    • Sad but true, Charles. This dude didn’t seem to care who heard him. He sang for as long as he wanted. When I thought about how I would react, especially when others said how awful he sounded, I know I would have quit. I quit every time someone rejects my work. But the opinions of others is not why I started writing. I started writing to entertain myself. The dude in the weeds is entertaining himself and having a good time doing it.

  3. What a wonderful, inspirational post, Linda! Thank you for sharing this. It’s a great reminder of how often we don’t do what we love to do just because of the opinion of others. I know my writing was put on the shelf for years because no one at the time saw any value in it, so why should I? I still care about people’s opinions, but I also know they are just that, opinions.

    • “I know my writing was put on the shelf for years because no one at the time saw any value in it, so why should I?” That’s where I am these last days. Thanks for this reminder to try to rise above it.

    • Thank you. 🙂 Marie, I’ve been there more times than I can even count. I’m sorry that has happened to you also. I once quit writing for three years because of one rejection. Three years I missed out on doing what I loved to do. No one should have the power to do that to someone.

      • I renew you writing about your time away from writing. We need to remember that those who reject us only have as much power as we give them. It’s a hard road to believing in oneself, but it’s worth it 🙂

      • I’ll have to write another post about that experience. I’m the kind of person who folds under opposition. I’ve also been of the view that if someone does not value my writing, why should I? But I had to realize that the buck stopped with me. I needed to take my writing seriously, even if no one else did.

        I can’t help recalling how J. K. Rowling was rejected multiple times.

      • Exactly! So many now famous writers were rejected. I think John Irving’s The World According to Garp was rejected 50 times (don’t quote me; I just remember it was a lot!). But they persevered because, ultimately, they believed in themselves. It has to start with you (us). If we don’t value our writing, then why should anyone else?

      • Wow. Fifty times??? And now it is a classic. I think A Wrinkle in Time was rejected more than that, though I’m not entirely sure how many times. I don’t know how many rejections I have in total. Well over 100.

      • You’re in good company: http://writerscircle.com/manuscript-completed-a-young-british-writer-dashed-off-his-first-novel-for-review-by-a-publishing-housethe-premise-of-his-b/

        Authors like Virginia Woolf started their own press in order to self-publish as well as publish other writers (I believe Hogarth Press also published T.S. Eliot). When I was studying literature many, many years ago, most of the writers I was attracted to, like Woolf, were likely to self-publish. Before the advent of the literary industrial complex, it wasn’t unheard of nor a scandal for a writer to self-publish. It’s frustrating because there is a lot of crap out there being self-published; yet, our presumed publishing gatekeepers are not always or often looking for good writing as they are looking for a book that will make $$$$$ (think, 50 Shades of Taupe). Eventually (and I’m telling myself this as much as I’m telling you), you have to ignore those naysayers and push through with your work. But I know it’s not easy …

      • Wow. So many people were rejected. That is the downside of publishing. That and having a book go out of print. I’ve experienced both.

        There was a small press in my area, which was started by a poet, probably because getting the attention of a publisher was so difficult. That small press was eventually bought by a larger publisher.

        I think the 50 Shades started off as a print on demand venture before Vintage Books took it on. But by then it was already a moneymaker.

  4. Two thoughts:

    * To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard

    * You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity. ~ Thomas Wolfe

    To sing for the pure pleasure of singing (without grasping for money, compliments, or publicity) is S~U~C~C~E~S~S.

  5. Wonderful post!
    I tend to do my own thing, but, I fret about it, wondering and questioning myself. I needed this.
    I am tone deaf, can’t carry a tune, let along most of the words. It makes for fine entertainment to the grandkids, as I make up words, but, a bit unholy in church.

      • Making a ‘joyful” noise is what I do.
        Funny thing. My, er, woefully poor singing is known far and wide, and I have been known to entertain those around me singing the signs while driving. I now think it is hereditary. My granddaughter and I took a little walk tonight, our last night together, and she said “Yia Yia, can I sing about nature?”. Of course. So, there we were, walking, and her singing about the wind, the ants, the juniper berries on trees . . . she even mentioned the weeds. Thought of you and this post. 🙂

      • Your granddaughter is sweet. 🙂
        Ha ha! Every time I see those weeds, I think about the guy singing behind them. He never lets us forget him!

  6. I love everything about this post. When I was little, I was told to just mouth the words of the hymns in church. But now, I sing. I figure by the time it gets to God’s ears it will mix with some other off tune person in a complementary way and be beautiful. 🙂

  7. Haha! How truly odd, and yet a bit inspirational! I tend to be “me” when I’m with people I know, but with strangers or at work etc then no, I probably don’t do my own thing. As for singing, I long ago realised the world hadn’t been cruel enough to deserve having to put up with my singing, so now I keep it to myself and the cats, who don’t seem to care so long as they get their dinner on time…

  8. Wonderful post, and I appreciate the comments too! I quit writing fiction for ten years after not selling my novels (3 in total) to a publisher. When I returned, I’d lost most of my skills and had to start over in beginner classes.

  9. Awww-cringe-awww-cringe-awww

    I can’t help but applaud the singer, assuming the singer is aware they are not much good at it as a craft and are not practicing to enter a competition. 😛 (There are a lot of people who have no idea what they sound like outside their own heads.) Whether the singer is aware of it or not, though, good for zir for pursuing a passion. I am not good at that. I edit like crazy.

    • I also edit. 🙂
      I know what you mean about competitions. When I was younger, I entered writing contests, though I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes you have to just go for it. But other times, caution is definitely needed.

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