Some days are demanding. Some days I just feel grumpy, and that everything is an effort, and that I just don’t want to be me. That I’d just like to lock myself in a room (preferably one containing many interesting books, but on some days I’d settle for one that just didn’t contain people) until the world just realises that I don’t want to play today and goes away and leaves me alone.
When I’m in this frame of mind I usually try (as much as I can, given that I have conversations for a living) to avoid people. I’ll cross the road on my walk home rather than have to walk past someone, even if it’s only overtaking a slower walker. But tonight I was too tired, and so I just walked straight past a girl who was ambling along the path in front of me. And here’s the thing that struck me, and that made me smile despite my I-hate-people grump: she was listening to her iPod through headphones, and singing her heart out. Badly. But she was singing.
Presumably she didn’t hear me coming, because when I passed her she fell silent abruptly. She didn’t start singing again as I walked past her. Perhaps she was embarrassed. Perhaps she thought that I’d judge her, that I – a complete stranger, whom she will presumably never so much as lay eyes on again – would think that she was strange, or silly, or showing off. And I didn’t want to do anything to make her feel awkward. But here’s what I wanted to say:
Don’t stop singing, lovely girl. Don’t stop enjoying that music, letting it surround you, letting it distract you from the world around you. Don’t let self-consciousness or fear of what people might think stop you from living that music, from letting the music inside you out into a world which desperately needs a little more colour, and a little more love, and a little more bravery, and a little more individuality, and a little more music. Don’t be embarrassed of your passion. Keep singing, lovely girl, because it makes you happy, and it makes people smile. And sometimes this world has too little of both.
But I didn’t say that. Partly I was too tired. Partly I didn’t want to embarrass her further. Partly I was too shy – I didn’t know how she’d take it. But a big part of it was that if I said that, I’d then have to take my own advice.
Maybe that’s what I need to say to myself, even on a day like today when I just want the world to go away. I have music inside me. I have colour, and individuality, and love and bravery. I have the capacity to be happy, and the capacity to make others happy in how I treat them. I can’t help but recognise that it’s my responsibility to let those things out.