Singing the heart out

August 6, 2009

I remember the first time Christopher visited me in Poland. It was shortly after we met, about eight years ago. I lived in Warsaw at that time. One day, in the evening, we went for a walk at the river’s bank. It was a summer day and there were tents with beer, french fries and grilled sausages stretching, one after another, along the promenade. Nearly each tent had a band or a singer, playing and singing old polish songs that every polish person knows. We sat in one of the beer gardens, drinking and listening to the music. Suddenly, as the band begun a particularly lively song, people sitting around us jumped up from their sits, held hands, formed a large circle and begun to dance, right in a middle of the promenade. They were strangers, they did not know each other, nor did they need to. They knew the song, the song moved them, so they danced. I run to join them leaving Christopher, half shocked and half terrified, at our table. I remembered this little adventure today as I watched “the Fiddler on the Roof”. There is a scene where men in a tavern celebrate an engagement. They are happy, excited, and they dance. They dance how they feel, they sing what’s in their heart. Not for show or entertainment, not to display skill, not to attract attention. They dance because they are moved to do it. They sing because singing expresses how they feel. What do we lose, I wonder, what do we lose when we don’t sing our sorrow and our joy? What do we shut down and push away if we don’t dance because the music moves us, because the life moves us? My teacher often makes us howl in class, or growl, or cry like birds do. It opens the body, opens the heart, helps to let go of mind. But it is a wolf’s way, a tiger’s way, a bird’s way. It’s their way of being who they are. So what is the human way? Maybe it’s singing? Maybe it’s dancing?

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