There’s a tune we all sing from time to time, a song of loneliness that we all know. Isolated behind walls, we’ve all placed the mask of Thalia over the face of Melpomene to guard our souls from a world we think can’t understand us.
We forget that others have been here; there’s a tempting belief to think our pain is only ours to bear. In a sense, there’s a truth to this idea. After all, isn’t all pain unique in a way unlike all others? Certainly two folks can go through similar experiences (even the same one!) and come out with an entirely different expression of pain.
So we sing our song alone, believing no one could possibly understand what we are going through.
Or worse, from time to time we DO sing out loud, and our pain is rejected, denied, glossed over, downplayed, ignored. Thus, we find ourselves drawing the curtains to sing our aria, never daring to stand in front of others and share our voice.
In front of the mirror we place our feet, and we strain our chords releasing our loss.
Finding our shame.
Dancing with our regrets.
From the depths of despair we sing, we cry, we keen. Sounding an alarm that we hope someone hears; petrified that somebody just might.
We touch our reflections. We turn off the lights. We go through the motions, we seal our lips tight to walk out in to a world that couldn’t POSSIBLY know what we’re going through. How could it? There’s too much noise for one voice to ever be heard.
And what is our pain, anyway? we ask. It is nothing, we tell ourselves. It is nothing compared to (you provide the words here). No, our voice means nothing.
And who cares at all? Better to be silent.
But listen. Listen closely. There are others who sing this song. With broken teeth and shattered vocal chords, yes, but they sing. The imperfect harmonies rise and mesh together; counterpoints join in; soft and loud voices form a dynamic of support.
Listen! There’s a choir full of the confused and the lonely. The lost and misunderstood. The lied to and the liars.
In mismatched robes, together they stand. There are no tryouts for this melange. All it takes is showing up. They run through scales and warm ups; their repertoire is limited. These are not professionals; but they are the experienced ones.
(We are ALL experienced ones. Don’t be afraid. Better, sing your fear!)
The accompanist plays the opening notes; some are sharp and some are flat. The singers begin.
Listen! Sopranos of suffering have chimed in; terrified tenors are finding their center. Baritones and basses and altos are voicing their nerves.
Listen! This isn’t a stage performance; this is the real Bel Canto. This is the Song of Loneliness and Pain. This is the Song of Struggle. It’s what a genius called a Broken Hallelujah.
It’s raw, it’s frightening. It hurts.
— and there’s a voice missing.