Singing From The Spot

When my friend Evelyn offered me a ticket to chant with Krishna Das, at Omega last week, it was a bit of a personal challenge because I don’t sing.

Why? The first time I sang in front of my husband, we were sitting in a car and a favorite oldie came up on the radio – probably Beach Boys or The Greatful Dead. I wailed along with it because I felt incredibly comfortable with him. When I finished, he looked over and me and said, totally seriously, “you’re kidding, right?”

I wasn’t kidding, even in first grade I was moved to the “speaking choir” which meant that I was not allowed to open my mouth when we sang but could say the name of the song before it started.

Decades later I am still in “speaking choir” and have learned not to open my mouth that way in front of anybody.

Of course I don’t chant.

But somewhere inside I wanted to challenge myself and I went. It was a good test. Krishna Das is still really Jeffrey Kagel from Long Island – down to earth, funny, easy-going. He talked about “getting closer to the feeling of being one with the universe, feeling connected with everyone, especially when the personal stuff comes up – depression, anger, horniness.” Clearly his stuff. He also talked about the idea of not performing. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at first.

We started to chant. My choices: I could either keep my mouth shut and just watch (boring) or give it a try. I had nothing to lose, I went for it. I really, really, really wasn’t competing with the voice next to me, or secretly listening to myself with judgement. Soon I started to relax and felt that feeling of “being one” with everyone else – no better, no worse, just there.

The interesting thing is that I don’t think that I could have gotten there, until I was truly willing to put myself in an uncomfortable situation where I couldn’t be strivey or try-ey or even envious – yup, my own venial sins. But in this situation, I couldn’t possibly be identified or attached. It was a wonderful spot to find and sing from. Thanks Evelyn.

Cynthia Kling

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