“He didn’t know how well he sang, he only heard the flaws…”
This phrase is from a song by the late singer/songwriter, Harry Chapin. In the ballad titled, “Mister Tanner”**, a man who runs a dry cleaning shop and loves to sing is urged by his customers to do a concert and display his great gift.
“Hi friends and neighbors praised the voice that poured out from his throat. They said that he should use his gift instead of cleaning coats.”**
The cleaner takes the risk, hires an agent, and schedules an event. The critics wrote the next day that although he had a nice voice, he lacked range and experience. Instead of working and improving and trying again, the cleaner returns to his shop, and as Harry sings it, “…he never sang again, excepting very late at night when the shop was dark and closed. He sang softly to himself as he sorted through the clothes.”**
In the chorus of the song Harry reminds us that the cleaner sang because,
“Music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy, and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole.”**
This song has always spoken to me. I saw Mr. Chapin perform it live and I bought the guitar music so I could play it at home. It reminds me of the challenges many of us face when it comes to doing the things that “make us whole”.
Here are a few truth’s I constantly need to remind myself of…maybe you need reminding as well.
- You have a gift. You have something to share.
- Believe in yourself. You have what it takes.
- Don’t let others steal the joy you feel when living in your gifting.
- Don’t let fear of failure or fear of criticism keep you from trying.
- Invest in your gift. Practice, Prepare. Perform.
- Encourage others to live in their gifting. Never steal someone’s joy.
I used to sing solo’s in church. I played the guitar and sang on a regular basis. I stopped one day and I have never gone back to it. I let my perception of what others thought silence my singing.
I had a dream to write a book. I almost didn’t do it (even after signing a major publisher’s contract) because I was afraid that it would reveal my inability to write. Then I remembered why I no longer sing and it made me sad. I heard an author I greatly admire talk about re-reading his first books and thinking how terrible it was. He commented that he was glad he didn’t quit because if he did the world never would have seen his improvement as a writer. I decided to take a risk and exhibit my writing. I have continued to write and speak. It is my gift and I get great joy from it.
Don’t let anyone steal your joy. Take a risk. Do what you were made to do.
** From the song, Mr. Tanner, words and music by Harry Chapin. ©1973 & 1976 Story Songs LTD.
Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net by sippakorn