People have taken note of my singing activities and asked how they related to my book, “Walking in Love: Why and How?” and its goals?
This blog is intended to respond to those questions.
Both the book and the singing have a common reference point. An unexpected change (for the better) that occurred in my health about four years ago.
Before then, I had been a semi-invalid due to a severe heart attack that took away my stamina. My loss of stamina was finally diagnosed and successfully treated about four years ago. As it turned out, the root cause of my heart attack had been an autoimmune disorder that destroyed my body’s ability to convert the thyroid hormone it produced (the energy hormone) into the form my body needed to function. A simple pill that contained the converted form was the treatment. I had my life back!
There was a second new and unexpected benefit of the thyroid treatment. When I was 22 years old, I had a career of singing for pay in Washington, DC, embassies and a local bar near where I lived. Then I lost my singing voice. The doctors said lesions were growing on my vocal chords but they didn’t know why, so they couldn’t treat it. Bye, bye, singing career.
About a month after taking the new medication I was working around the house, doing my chores and humming a tune, as is my habit, when I suddenly realized I was singing that song. I started bawling, crying tears of joy, for two hours. The doctor said the lesions were clearing on my vocal chords and the loss of singing voice in my youth had been an early casualty of my auto-immune disorder.
How did I respond to all this? When I was young, I was taught that life was not always a terrible burden. Sometime, you got unexpected gifts. If and when that happened, you have an obligation to tell people what happened. This is called witnessing. It gives other people hope that good things may happen to them. You are also supposed to say, “Thank you”, in a meaningful way.
I started singing every time I had the opportunity. When I would sing, I would be overcome by the joy of the moment. Even so, I realized enthusiastic singing only takes you so far. I resolved to sing with joy, as beautifully as I could, in thanks to my God. I engaged a really excellent singing teacher whose skills made a major difference in the quality of my singing.
As my skills progressed I sang with some exceptional choral groups, and watched how deeply our singing moved people. It was the joy they were picking up on. They were “enjoying” the music, participating in the joy!
In parallel, I had been moved to write “blurbs” on a variety of topics. Understand, I had previously written two books on human spirituality. Those books and my new one were produced by the same process. I would feel moved to sit and write a blurb on some topic. I would write stream of consciousness, pouring out my real-time inspiration as fast as I could type.
After several months of this, I looked at what had been produced and noted, “There’s a coherency, a hidden structure behind this writing” It was like it was all ordered and could be easily put into a book. This is a wacky way to write a book, but it works for me. It’s the same procedure I used to write all three of my books.
I then got the next surprise – a call from the publisher of my first two books. They had accepted those books even though they were outside their normal product line. They told me they were now branching out into the religion and spirituality market and remembered me. They asked if I might have some ideas for new book to fit into their new genre. I said, “It just so happens I have one in draft that I’ll send you”. That’s how my third book, Walking in Love: Why and How?, got published.
In my spiritual efforts I had long realized I had a flair for evangelism – sharing spiritual knowledge with others. I realized that books and the music were two aspects of the same thing –what happens when you live your life with joy as a guide? Where does it take you? It took me to where I am now.
I felt the need to try my hand at solo singing. Just like writing blogs, I was trying out recording me singing solos. I shared some of these efforts with my parish music director. She asked, where is all this going?” I told her I had no idea but if I got some clarification on that question, she’d be the second to know.
I finally ended up doing a CD, instead of a DVD. I recorded a lot of singing cuts and then moved on to actually develop them into a finished album. I asked the producer how many cuts should I put on the album. He said, “Thirty minutes worth – the average time people are in their car while driving around the Los Angeles area.” I played with various combinations until the entire set of selections totaled thirty minutes and a few seconds. I then looked at the list. I wanted to pick songs that paralleled my life. Some of the music was in foreign languages (Swedish and French) from my early years in Washington, DC, before I lost my singing voice. Other songs came from my singing gospel in one choral group, Latin from my parish choral group, and Italian from my sessions with my singing teacher.
All of a sudden, something clicked. My life tells the story of me following the spiritual development process I laid out in the book. The CD sends the message that process is applicable to all humans and cultures, no matter what the language is. This is the answer to my parish music director’s question. You can communicate spiritual truth by music as well as the written word. The album tells the story of God giving me a blessing of a restored singing voice and using that voice to tell a story of his goodness, a story of hope, a story of joy, a story of not giving up under adversity, a story of growing in my ability to love. Especially, the importance of staying alive to experience future blessings I could never have predicted. These are all themes from my book. I was being moved to express the same messages in music.
I’m now in the midst of producing my next album, “Walking in Love – Food for The Journey”. I had no idea how to sing, develop and produce a CD when I started all this, but there were willing people who helped me out, at every step of the way. You don’t always need to know where the road ends, to start on the journey.
I’ve learned to walk with God. He never tells me where the path is leading. This is probably because sometimes I might freak out in fear, were I to know that. Instead, He leads me moment by moment with a trail of bread crumbs.
The experience is one of taste and see, validation by personal experience. You need no religious creeds or dogma in your background to do this. Just bring your human talents and yearning along and see whether or not you get good surprises, as I did. If you do have religious practice in your background but you may feel you want more out of it, give this a try. It may give you a boost, if you’ve fallen into a rut.