Posts Tagged ‘ happiness ’

A little joy

One of the problems of this interactive, interconnected web 2.0 world is that sometimes the collective wisdom of the social networks, blogs and wikis turns round and bites you on the bottom.  A case in point is a little application on Facebook called ‘Compare People’, which allows its users to compare their friends – Who has the best hair?  Who would make the best father?  Who was is the most naturally talented? – and be compared to their friends’ friends.  From time to time, it sends out a little e-mail telling you that Carlos and Petunia are your most dateable single friends and that you are less famous than 27 of your network of colleagues, relatives, internet weirdos and people you perform with.  As I have observed these friendly little missives over time, I have noticed that as my Facebook social network changes and evolves, my friends remain remarkably consistent about my strongest strengths and weakest weaknesses.  My top 2 strengths never change, being punctuality and reliability.  A little dull, I suppose, but a reasonably accurate assessment.  The weaknesses are a little more variable, but there one of them has been consistent for many months: happiest.  That’s right – every time someone compares me to one of their other friends and selects who they think is the happiest, they choose the other person.  I am apparently the gloomiest, or at least the least sunny, person I know.

This, oddly, is not something that increases my happiness, so perhaps this little piece of information has become self-fulfilling.  It worries me somewhat, for a few reasons.  As a person who suffers from bouts of clinical depression, what does it say about me when I am the least happy person even when not afflicted?  As someone who works in a service environment, what effect am I having on the students I work with?  As a Christian, shouldn’t joy be evident in me, since that is one of the fruits of the spirit according to the letters in the New Testament?  Come to think of it, I’m probably falling short on some of the others.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Are those really words that describe the Singing Librarian?  And so a tailspin of spiritual confusion begins.

The truth is that I’m probably happier than people seem to realise.  I am, oddly, quite capable of being happy without smiling broadly or laughing all the time.  I don’t tend to be ‘big’ about any emotions I’m feeling, and happiness is no exception.  I don’t shout and punch people when angry, I make sure that I cry in solitude rather than in public, and I don’t often grin from ear to ear.  Also, in recent months, I’ve probably been happier than I have been for quite a while.  West Side Story gave me an immense amount of pleasure (thanks, Phoenix Performing Arts!), and a not-so-little thing called romance has taken me by happy surprise as well.  Perhaps I don’t express my happiness as often as I should, but I am happy.  I may experience frustrations or the black dog may hang around from time to time, but in my own quiet way, I’m a happy singing librarian.

On this theme, I have been entertained and challenged recently by a song called ‘Spread a Little Joy’ by Andrew Lippa.  It talks (or sings) of how we can change the world by being infectiously joyous (not a new idea, as I can think of other songs along the same lines from many decades past) rather than infectiously gloomy.

Don’t spend your life rehearsing every whimper and whine.
Go and spread a little joy
Every girl and every boy.
When you spread a little joy,
Then the sun will shine!

Perhaps that should be a challenge for me.  Spread a little bit of joy somehow.  If it’s true that the world laughs with you, does it smile and get a spring in its step with you as well?  I don’t know, but it’s worth trying.  I have no idea how, but I resolve to spread a little joy.

Summer singing

Let’s have another attempt at a post about singing, shall we?

This weekend I performed at a garden party along with eight others from my operatic society.  The sun couldn’t be bothered to shine very much until the garden party was over, but a good time was had by all, and our vocal cords were given a good work-out.  Singing with a small group was good fun, and the rehearsals were nicely balanced between being laid-back and managing to get everything done.  You can hear the overall effect so much more easily in a small ensemble, as the people singing the other parts are right next to you.  This makes dynamics (volume) easier to play with, as you can balance your voice with those of your neighbours, creating lovely swells and fading away much more effectively than a chorus of 50 can fade and swell!

We sung a variety of pieces, mostly as an ensemble, but with some solos, duets and so on scattered throughout.  The average age of the audience meant that our selections from Rodgers and Hammerstein, plus the gorgeous ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man’ from Show Boat were received particularly well.  Of the solos, the woman who sang ‘Summertime’ was astounding.  I contributed Chicago‘s ‘Mister Cellophane’, a favourite song for me as it gets the audience on your side, and you can really work with your nerves, as the character starts the song in a fairly shaky way.

As ever with such things, I was very nervous, but as ever I’m glad that I did it.  As we sung the final chord of ‘As Long As I Have Music’, a warm glow came over me.  Music is a great gift, and it’s so much better when it’s shared!

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