I can’t believe I’m sharing this. Ok, this is me, age nine, singing about how great it is to be “Differeeeent from everyone I know-ho!” It’s silly and funny (I even threw a key change in there), but I’ve got to admire this little girl, Miss Mini Mel. Mini Mel was often lost in thought and seldom lived up to her potential in school. She was always blowing off her homework to write songs in her little blank book and sing them into her little tape recorder. Thankfully, a couple of those old cassettes survived, so I can hear her voice from time to time. And… (argh OMG OMG why am I doing this)… if you’d like to, you can too. http://youtu.be/PhnFiWTeao4
The first time I shared this song was when a teacher gave us one of those long-term projects to do throughout the marking period. Can we all agree that this never works? Science fair projects? Rock collections? Leaf collections? Please. They are going to be done the day before, with all of our moms fighting for the last Ginko leaf in town (it’s behind the Prospect Library).
I think our options included doing a paper or a diorama or a robot, or something that made hot lava. Seriously. Research was supposedly involved, then an outline, definitely 3 X 5 cards, and then we’d hand in a finished something-or-other. But most importantly, we were going to learn important lessons about organization, creativity, and hard work.
Obviously, I ignored this until the night before it was due. And I was definitely screwed because we were out of 3 X 5 cards.
I decided to cheat. I got out my song book and my little tape recorder and sang. I made a jacket for the cassette with track listings and times. I wrote out the lyrics. The next day I handed in my first full-length album.
I got an A+ that I felt I did not earn because I did not do any work.
Isn’t it fascinating that as children we can already start to feel that the space we make for our own creative play isn’t valuable to the world around us? As though our private, authentic moments are a waste of time?
Hadn’t I done the work? Hadn’t I spent three months brainstorming, writing and creating?Hadn’t I catalogued my work in an organized fashion? And didn’t I have something to show for it at the end of the marking period?
It just didn’t feel like work.
We think of “work” as a commodity that may have value for someone else, but not for the person doing it. It is what someone tells you to do. It is what you do to get your parents and teachers off your back so you can hang out with your friends later. When you get older “work” is what someone else pays you to do so you can put food on the table, put the kids through college, pay for your next vacation.
The time I spent writing songs felt like self-indulgent play time. It felt like I was just wandering around inside my heart every day when I should’ve been doing chores and homework. I was goofing off, wasting time, daydreaming. I hadn’t even reached the age where I would need music and writing for cathartic therapy. It was just blissful, playful self-expression.
I couldn’t feel it then, but now I know that spending time on the gifts we’ve been given isn’t selfish or frivolous. It is the best way for us to stay connected with ourselves and add value to the world. I mean, just showing up a more fulfilled person makes the world a better place, right?
It is quite possible that the things we are drawn to the most hold clues to a deeper purpose: a project, a job, a calling, or a Friday afternoon that feels just right.
Because I’m different from everyone I know
Yes I’m different and I hope it clearly shows
No one talks a lot like me, no one looks at all like me.