Omkari Williams

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Singing Loud in Cars

Let's start with being clear about one thing, I am not a singer. I know what real singers sound like. I went to acting school and shared apartments with singers, and I have friends who sing like angels. I am not in that realm, not even close. I am in that middle ground of people with "pleasant" voices, i.e. no one is likely to run screaming but they aren't going to hang out to hear me either.

I believe that it is for people like me that God made cars, and showers. Places where we can indulge ourselves in the pleasure that singing brings without embarrassing ourselves or making those who live with us order noise suppressing headphones.

Especially at the holidays I really crank it up when alone (but not always alone) in my car. I put on my favorite music of the moment and just sing away. And it does something to, and for, me to do this. It steeps me in music, which I believe is part of the human experience; from the beat of our hearts to the sound of our breath. But also, and as importantly, I get to do something at which I am only average, at best, and not care what anyone thinks.

There is so little space in our world for "imperfection." We are encouraged to do only those things at which we excel. Sure, do the things that you are good at, but also do the things that you are just okay at, or even bad at, if they feed your soul. As artists, and honestly, just as humans, we need to be willing to be bad at things. Not merely because it does tend to breed a healthy humility, but also because it's part of being creative. Trying something that you are crap at might actually lead you somewhere interesting; but you'll never know if you aren't willing to be imperfect.

I was at a party with some fascinating people. One of the women I spoke with teaches modern dance, ballet, and jazz, at a nearby college. We started by talking about the injuries that ballet dancers generally show up with and I was telling her about my experience of ballet class. I started thinking back and realized that I knew early on that I was never, never going to be a ballerina, but I kept at it for years because it fed my soul. Not because I was good, I really wasn't, but it felt good (except for the bleeding feet). It felt good and it taught me things I probably wouldn't have otherwise learned.

It taught me to take real pleasure in doing something better than I had before, even if still very imperfectly. It taught me to persevere, to avoid comparison, and to not care so much about what other people thought. Honestly, people will always think something, let them think. It taught me that doing something you love, or even just like a lot, has real value because it keeps you connected – to you!

Later at that same party the subject of singing came up with a different guest and I said that I was thinking of taking singing lessons this year. In that serendipitous way of the world, this woman told me that our local college has a community choir open to anyone! Let me tell you that next Tuesday night, I am so there!! Really, I can't wait. I know that there will be those gifted with beautiful voices and then there will be those like myself and that is fine. I am so excited, to stretch, to grow, to sing.

Is there something that you don't do because you aren't as good at it as you wish you were? Can you flip that perspective and just look at it as something to play with? Consider that you can lower your expectations and just have a good time. Perfection is truly overrated, in no small part because it makes us miss all the stuff that happens that is just a heck of a lot of fun. So, consider doing something that gives you joy and see where it takes you!

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