Life: The Musical

I sat in a waiting room a couple weeks ago, doing what one does in such a place: waiting. The only other person in the room—a man who I’d seen in passing on my way in—was blocked from my view by the angle of the wall as he spoke with the receptionist and another woman behind the counter. I perused the table of available reading material, only vaguely aware of their conversation until I was fully alerted to it when the man suddenly broke into song.

I don’t mean that figuratively (if there is even a figurative way to take it). I mean he literally began singing. And this wasn’t just a hush-hush, passive-voiced, let-me-sing-a-few-words-to-jog-your-memory kind of song. He belted it out in a rich baritone as if a Broadway stage had popped up beneath his feet, a microphone thrust into his hand, a follow spot bathing him in a beam of light.

His performance has stayed with me since that day, playing on repeat in my mind with an accompanying sense of wonder. Truthfully, it wasn’t the man’s powerful vocals that made an impression on me. Nor was it the song itself. (I didn’t recognize the tune and the lyrics vanished from memory almost immediately.) No, what struck me most was that this man had an impulsive urge to sing and rather than tamp it down out of embarrassment, he followed it with gusto.

As a forever fan of musicals—Mary Poppins, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Grease being some of my childhood favorites—I’ve often wondered what it might be like if real life followed the example of these music-inspired stories. How freeing it would be if anytime we were overcome with a strong emotion—be it joy, grief, amazement, frustration—we felt as confident as this man did to express it boldly and unapologetically in song.

If your life were a musical, what lyrics would fit your day? What song would you bust out singing right now, right in this moment?

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