I have trouble with the title of this poem, “Anyone Can Sing.” You see, in junior high school choir my teacher once approached me during a song we were preparing for a concert, tapped me on the shoulder and told me to “just mouth the words.”
Yet I am also drawn to the title of this poem because it names something that’s true for me. My choir teacher may have embarrassed me, but he couldn’t silence me. It’s true that I rarely lead others in song, but I continue to sing along to this day.
I love the power of song to touch the bittersweet paradoxes of being human. And I love the call to give voice to what is most important and most poignant in our lives and in our leadership, knowing that when we do so, we invite others to join in.
Anyone Can Sing
Anyone can sing. You just open your mouth,
and give shape to a sound. Anyone can sing.
What is harder, is to proclaim the soul,
to initiate a wild and necessary deepening:
to give the voice broad, sonorous wings
of solitude, grief, and celebration,
to fill the body with the echoes of voices
lost long ago to bravery, and silence,
to prise the reluctant heart wide open,
to witness defeat, to suffer contempt,
to shrink, lose face, go down in ignominy,
to retreat to the last dark hiding-place
where the tattered remnants of your pride
still gather themselves around your nakedness,
to know these rags as your only protection
and yet still open – to face the possibility
that your innermost core may hold nothing at all,
and to sing from that – to fill the void
with every hurt, every harm, every hard-won joy
that staves off death yet honours its coming,
to sing both full and utterly empty,
alone and conjoined, exiled and at home,
to sing what people feel most keenly
yet never acknowledge until you sing it.
Anyone can sing. Yes. Anyone can sing.
– William Ayot
To what will you give voice in 2015?
P.S. You can discover the power of your voice and agency at a Courage & Renewal program.
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