Imagine the scene. A blustery seaside town on the Isle of Man. A concert hall full of singers of all types and their supporters. Excitement and trepidation rising at the final of the Festival of Choirs competition. Then hush. The announcement. We were the winners! Friday Voices – Choir of the Festival. We could hardly contain our joy.
Sleep deprived, we’d worked our socks off because we know the competition was stiff – the excellent ladies choir, Chanteause, who performed with such precision and beauty, and the wonderful Flint Male Voice Choir, with their power and musicality.
The following few minutes were a frenzy of tears, laughter, hugs and congratulations. We were overwhelmed with the news.
What a joy, and at the same time what a fitting tribute to the member of our choir who loved singing but had tragically lost his fight with cancer earlier this summer. Our tears were both of joy and of sadness.
The occasion taught me 3 things:
Life is about both joy and sadness
If we live our lives fully, we will not be immune to more difficult emotions. We were grieving the loss of our beloved choir member because we care about him. Yet we also enjoyed the full force of joy too.
We feel the full range of emotions if we allow ourselves. It is possible to numb our emotions, in an effort to avoid the painful ones. But we cannot numb selectively. If we do not allow ourselves to feel pain and sorrow, we will never fully feel joy, wonder, awe. We will not, in fact, feel fully alive.
We grieve and feel sad because we care. Yet there will always be joy if we look for it.
Do you want to live and fully feel? Or do you want to numb and just exist?
The choice is yours.
Life is about creating memories
That occasion in the Isle of Man from a week or two ago will live with me for a very long time. A wonderful memory. And that is surely what life is about – memories. Experiences that stay with us in our hearts, rather than material things or ‘stuff’.
I can save for a new, fancy car. I might hanker after a certain piece of jewellery or new television for Christmas. But the things that will shape my life are the memories I create through the experiences I have. And we created that joyful experience by deciding to take part in the competition in the Isle of Man.
Do you want more stuff? Or do you want more memories?
What memories do you want to create?
And when and how will you create them?
Life is about engaging with others
It seems to me that we become alive when we engage fully with others. Human beings are designed to interact with each other – in pairs, in families, in communities, in our work and in our play.
Without that interaction we deny a fundamental part of ourselves. With that interaction, if we engage fully, we have the opportunity for tears, laughter, enjoyment, despair, support, sadness and real joy. For creating and sharing memories, for being a community, for experiencing the full range of life’s richness, for being, and feeling, fully alive.
Who are you when you are fully alive?
Are you engaging all of you with others? If not, when and how will you?
Our life is here and now. With all its joys and all its sadness. We can avoid it if we wish. Or we can grab it with both hands and live.
I know which I choose.