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Hello, Sing into Joy World!
This is the second in a series of holiday-season blogposts on the theme “The Presence—and Presents—of Our Voices.” The first one, before Thanksgiving, was about the presence of our physical voices (to ourselves and others), and the impact our voice can have. You can find that post in this Blogthread.
Today's focus is on listening, a gift that’s often lacking in our hyped-up world. And sometimes a little harder to achieve in Zoomworld than it was in our norms before, right? Of course, in online meetings when one person interrupts or talks over another, the i-net connection tends to freeze or the sound to blur out. So we know when we’ve done it. #gift #redo
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a charming children's Christmas song about the night wind asking this question to the little lamb, the lamb to the shepherd boy, and in #whisperdownthelane fashion, finally the king says it to the people everywhere, about a dazzling star and a certain miraculous birth in Bethlehem. My own spirituality embraces many traditions, and this whole season is one in which “the people everywhere” tend to celebrate the return of the light, first of all the light of our common celestial Sun. We have the Hindu Diwali celebration in early November, then Hanukkah, which came a little earlier than usual this year, then the Winter Solstice, followed by Christmas, and finally Kwanzaa, which begins on December 26 and carries us into the Gregorian calendar New Year on January 1.
During this season when the light is visibly returning, what do we hear? And do we give the gift of listening? When I’m talking with someone, or in a group, can I be present not just to what I want to say next in response to what’s being said right now, or ten minutes ago, or last year? Can I be present by sensing my breath in my body as I listen, by taking in the sound of the others’ voices, by sensing those sounds’ impact on my own energy—indeed, on my body itself, before I start imagining things about what they really meant? Can I keep a little of that awareness with me when I begin to speak? How does my voice sound when it comes out? Is my tone joyful, sad, kind, not-kind? My pace slow, rapid, even or not-even? Am I excited? What does my speaking convey as a result of my listening before, during, after?
In a broader context that includes music: This winter once again, so many of us are especially missing the special seasonal sounds of music we traditionally shared live and in person: in the streets, houses of worship, concert halls, clubs. Even in our own homes, gatherings are likely still limited; and will we sing together? This is a painful hole in our celebrations' hearts. We can make some choices about how we find those beloved, inspiring sounds where and how they're available, to feast our ears. One online site I've discovered that's amazing is Radio Garden, where you can hear radio stations from all over the world in real time just by clicking on dots on the globe map. They also have an app. (I have no relationship with Radio Garden, just love that we can hear what people are saying--or playing--all over Planet Earth.)
Pauline Oliveros, the late composer, player, improviser, and founder of the Deep Listening Institute, used to say, “Listening is love.”
Let’s give THAT present! Our voices—and our ears—can be not only Present, if we are, but also a Present to others, in this holiday season.
More to come in the next installment, which will be a coda (Italian for "tail") to this one, about listening to our inner voice and body around that perennial holiday joy and challenge, FOOD! And how it can be part of self-love and care. Including, singers, care of our voices. If you’d like to share your thoughts with me, including anything you'd like to see me include in that topic, please drop me a line here.
My Etsy shop, SunriseSongStudio, is now open! Look for holiday gifts there, including the gift of song that keeps on giving through the New Year: "SongBytes"!