My first thoughts as I think about singing are that singing is the result of an internal voice coming from deep within and finding a way out. I am hooked on singing competitions. I watched American Idol. I watch The Voice. I was astounded by the Sing-off. On each show as the competition gets tough the difference between a great performance and a mediocre performance comes through in how well the singers can dig down deep and pull out not only sound but emotion. And, that, to me is the real meaning of “sing”.
I am reminded of the Dani people of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. The Dani talk about something they call “etai-eken”. Etai-eken translates roughly to “seeds of singing”. Some point to the etai-eken as being located in solar plexus (mass of nerves that congregate at the pit of the stomach), others say it resides in the heart. The Dani themselves often refer to a pig’s heart as the seat of their etai-eken. To the Dani, the etai-eken, is the seat of their soul and also their personality. It is a combination of who they are mixed with some aspect of themselves as spiritual beings.
An important aspect of the etai-eken is that it is also a center for health and well-being. When a person is not feeling well, they are said to be having problems with their etai-eken. The village will leave them alone to give their etai-eken time to heal. There have also been incidents when people were having seizures and the village calmed them in a ritualistic way which cured the seizures.
I was reminded of this because I think it has symbolism for how we all feel in the world. When we feel comfortable and at ease, we feel like singing. Our voices lift us up as if from some invisible string pulling a part of ourselves outward and upward.
If I extend the metaphor to conflict, I see a connection between giving voice to the internal struggle and singing. This morning I sat in a very poignant and heart-warming mediation in which the parents and child, as well as the step-father, sat together and had a difficult conversation about how they could start working together and let go of the anger that was a major part of how they communicated with one another. Their seeds of singing, so to speak, had not been giving voice to the real issues, the pains of separation, the mistrust that had built up, and the difficulty of raising a child after a divorce. It is hard to tell what will happen to the family after this initial agreement to start talking to one another and to start finding a way to be on the same page. One thing is for sure, the end of the conversation was a strong shift from not wanting to say a word to animated sharing of stories. They came in with no song, they left with harmony.
So, in conclusion, I think being able to give voice to our deepest feelings is singing, it is our song!