When I was about 7 years old my parents enrolled me in music school to learn how to play the guitar.
It only took two years of music school and a school recital where I forgot everything I was supposed to play (even though I knew it all by heart at home, of course), to realise I’m not willing to put in the hours and the effort it takes to really masted the instrument but I’d rather enjoy other people’s music.
And for years I did just that.
Even though I know so many lyrics to my favourite songs, whenever the song came up in public or even driving in a car with my partner, I used to stay quiet, especially when I was in the company of those more musically talented.
I felt self-conscious.
I felt like I wasn’t good enough.
I felt like everyone would judge me for not singing perfectly.
That is until almost two years ago.
I was in London, at yet another yoga training, when I first experienced the magic of kirtan—a call-and-response style song or chant. The teacher played the harmonium and sang her heart out.
She was singing in Sanskrit and I had no idea what she was saying, really, but I felt the pull. I felt the pull of music so I joined in.
I sang, not knowing the words, not knowing anything about the chant, the only thing I knew was that it moved something inside of me and I needed more of that in my life.
For months after coming back home from the training, I'd be looking at harmoniums online, knowing damn well that the price and the instrument itself were out of my reach. Until a few months later I had a little “fuck it” moment and bought it anyway. I played the harmonium for a few weeks—or more like I tried playing it—but soon my patience wore thin and I simply gave up.
I gave up because it wasn’t simple and because I wasn’t instantaneously good at it.
It wasn’t until a couple of months later after I had already put my harmonium up for sale, that I had a chat with one of my friends who said I should check out this kirtan singer that he thinks I’d love. He encouraged me not to sell to harmonium but instead give it more time. I don’t know what it was in the words he said—maybe it was simply the fact of him believing in my musical expression—but something made me not want to give up just yet.
I looked her up and was immediately mesmerised by her music. Her voice was without comparison but it wasn’t just that, it was something about the mantras that she sang—it felt like they moved a rock from the door to my heart and the contents of my heart started spilling down my cheeks.
It was then and there I turned down the two harmonium offers I had received a few days prior and instead gave it another go. It took months before I gathered the courage to bring the harmonium to one of our women’s circles. I had no idea if I was going to play or not and I didn’t want to put extra pressure on myself but I wanted the option to play if I felt inspired.
At the end I asked everyone to close their eyes, I had my cheat sheet ready and...I sang. The rhythm was off and my voice shook but I did it. I. Did. It.
And I was so happy to share this bhakti, this path of the heart, with others.
No one cared about my faulty rhythm and my shaky voice. All they cared about was the feeling that the mantra, that the music, brought to the room, brought to them.
And that is all I could ever wish for.
The moral of the story?
Can we start giving a little less f*ck what everyone else thinks?
Can we try something that we’re not good at (yet) and be okay with that?
Can we keep up with something even if it means we’ll never be good at it if it makes our heart skip a beat?
I sure hope so. It’s that love, it’s that happiness of the things done from the heart—no matter how imperfectly—that gives this life that extra touch of magic.
Dreamer, creator, lover, yogi.