Songs Unsung

Songs Unsung

My dad was a “do it now” kind of guy. He was fond of quoting the German poet, Goethe. Whenever one of us kids would be late with homework or be guilty of putting off a household task, dad would fix us with those dark brown eyes and in his deepest voice, would impale us with the words of Goethe.

“What you can do or dream you can, BEGIN IT. Courage hath genius, power, magic in it. Only engage and the mind grows heated. BEGIN IT and the work will be completed.”

The words were a verbal kick in the butt for us. My dad loathed procrastination with a passion. There was no way he would allow us to put off till tomorrow what we could do today.

Procrastination is one of our most common flaws as human beings. Who has not put off that appointment for dental cleaning? What student hasn’t delayed doing his homework until the last minute?

But procrastination can go way beyond putting off fixing the leaky faucet or the gate that squeaks. I read a line from a Bengali poet the other day that haunts me. He wrote, “The song I wanted to sing never happened because I spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument.”

Wow! His words reminded me of a deeper meaning to procrastination. There is waiting within each of us, deep within our souls, a song waiting to be sung, a song that only we can sing. I’m not talking about the spectacular talents of an Einstein but the humble gifts, unique to us, that we possess. To allow these “songs” to remain unsung is a tragedy. Our reluctance to use our God-given gifts is a loss, both for us and for the people with whom we share our moment of time.

In the “songs unsung” category, we need to think about the unique opportunities we have to make a difference in the lives of the people we meet on our journey.

Missing a chance to “catch” your kid doing something right is a song unsung.
Forgetting to say, “I love you” to your spouse or kid before going to bed at night… is a song unsung.

Putting off telling a friend you are sorry for the harm you did to him .is a song unsung.

Being so wrapped up in yourself that you don’t even pay attention to the words or actions of others ….is a song unsung.

To close your heart to someone in need…is a song unsung.

In that larger sense, we are all potential songwriters. Our time is way too short to afford the luxury of stringing and restringing our instruments. The music lies within us, waiting to be written, waiting to be sung.

Musings From an Old Rose

Wise Musings From an Old Rose

I paused to look at one of the last roses of the season the other day. The old girl was at the end of her journey. Her once brilliant red had faded to pink; most of her proud petals were strewn on the earth from which she had sprung. She looked sort of lost and abandoned. I thought of O’Henry’s poignant story of the “Last Leaf.” I wanted to ask this forlorn rose what she was thinking. Was she sad to be bidding adieu to her life on earth? I wanted to engage her in conversation. After all, we were two living beings, both of a certain age, sharing the same earth. Ah, if only we could talk.

Of course, the truth is that roses and all living things have been “talking” to us for eons. Plants and flowers do communicate with us non-verbally. Roses communicate most obviously through sight and smell. Their vibrant colors are a feast to our eyes, and their delicate scent has enriched our environment. What one of us has not sometime in the course of his life bent down to smell a rose? What poet or songwriter can resist putting words to pen trying his best to describe the beauty, the wonder of a rose?

Sometimes I envy the single-mindedness of the rose. Rising from mother earth, she is sure of what is expected of her. She will bud into a gorgeous creation, seducing the bees and butterflies with her sweet nectar so that they will go out and increase and multiply the species. And as she goes about fulfilling her destiny, she creates beauty and fills the air with her aroma. Then she dies, leaving behind as a parting gift, tasty rose hips to nourish the plants and animals who have shared her life.

There is a part of me that envies the sure path of my sister, the rose. Would that I could be as certain of my path through life and as content with my life. Instead, I worry about stuff, and make mistakes and wish I could have better health and that I were more open to change. I wish that I had spent more time telling my kids that I love them and that I had saved more money for my old age. Blah! Blah! Blah!

But as I wrestle with the “woulda, coulda, shouldas” of my life, I swear that I hear the old rose mocking me. “Hey, you’re old enough to know better. Don’t you get it yet that none of us created beings are perfect? Roses, humans, locusts, we are all flawed in some way. Just be glad you’re alive. None of your anxieties amount to anything compared to the awesome beauty of life itself. Be grateful for life, for friends for family for the wonder of creation.

I thought I was crazy standing there listening to a flower lecture me. But I had to admit, she was making sense. I continued walking down the street with a little more spring in my step. Then I heard a far off voice coming from where I had seen the rose saying “Hey, old buddy. You’re okay. Just don’t forget to smell the roses.”