learning from laryngitis

I may have mentioned before that I’m a singer. It’s always been a given in my life that no matter where I go, this was always going to be a part of my identity. However, since Tuesday of last week, I’ve been struggling with laryngitis. Now, it’s Tuesday again and my voice has improved, but it still hasn’t come back completely. I’ll admit, I am starting to freak out on the inside. Well, now I guess I’m freaking out on the outside, since I’m writing this in my blog.

I have never been without my voice for this long, ever. I never realized how much I would miss it when it’s gone, how incapacitated I would feel. Now that I’ve had to live without it for so many days, it’s a bit like Superman when he’s Clark Kent. I feel so powerless, so vulnerable.

So small.

So now I’m toying with this question: what if I never get my voice back? What if the word “singer” can no longer apply to me? Would I still be okay with who I am? Going through this minor ordeal has taught me that there is no such thing as a sure thing. What has been given can always be taken away, and nobody gets to choose what they keep. They can only choose to do their best with what they have, while they have it.

I can’t make up for all the times I let my gifts lie wastefully unused, but this temporary inability has left me with a seed of thought in my mind. Whatever blessings we have received, whether at birth or sometime thereafter, we cannot take for granted. Our talents, careers, families, friends…one day are here, and the next day may be gone. We can talk about the plans we have for ourselves, the goals and dreams we are waiting to fulfill, but the only thing that we know for sure is the present moment. And at the present moment, what are we doing with the gifts we have been given? Are we shining a light on these miraculous things which we have been given so freely and unreservedly? Or are we putting bushels over them with our laziness, busyness, and neglect?

I’ve been guilty of the latter. While I’m in no real danger of truly losing my voice forever, I know I’m in danger of losing this sense of urgency. So I’m writing this down in hopes that I will always remember: tomorrow is not promised to me. I only have today. So if I’m blessed to have another tomorrow, I hope that by then I can say I’ve made better use of what I have. If I can say that, then I’ll really be able to call my gift, a gift.

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