This is a hypothetical question that has always stumped me. If you were forced to choose one disability between deafness or blindness, which would it be?
I know everyone would probably say they’d never choose to be blind over being deaf, constantly needing assistance to do the simplest of things, being cheated out of viewing a gorgeous sunset, never seeing their children’s’ faces. “The disadvantages far outweigh the advantages!” they would say and choose deafness and get on with their day.
But for me this question translates differently. For me this question isn’t about seeing or hearing.
It’s about music.
It redefines itself and blatantly asks, would you rather live a life through music or through silence?
Being a singer at heart, I have music rooted so deeply in my soul that whatever I’m doing, at whatever time of the day there’s a tune in my head and a rhythm in my step. Sometimes I even imagine I have a metronome instead of a heart beating and keeping me alive, making sure my body is at pace with my life and vice versa.
Throughout my childhood I noticed that music took hold of me in a way that playing games, drawing pictures, or hiking through the woods in my friends’ backyards never did. Music had a purpose and singing had a message. Whenever I sang either in front of others or alone in the shower, I had to get my message across. Later on I would replace the word “message” with “feeling;” I had to get my “feeling” across. I had to show others listening to my song just how passionate I was about what I was singing. I’ve found that as I sing, I experience the world through music. Even the dull hum of machinery behind the janitor’s closet door at school drones out a note whenever I walk past that causes me to softly harmonize with a Gregorian chant to its deep resonating sound.
I had a realization one Thanksgiving that came to me like the shock you get when you hear a minor chord in the middle of a major key signature. As we sat around the table thinking about what we were thankful for, I surfed the catalogue of memories inside my mind and found an astonishing fact. All my most happiest memories were somehow anchored in music! I remembered a moment two years ago when I had been cast as my favorite character, Kim, in our school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. On opening night, before throwing the curtain aside, striding onto the stage and singing my first number, I remembered experiencing all these shockingly intense emotions tugging at my heart that had nothing to do with stage fright. These feelings bustling inside me built up and I felt the edges of my eyes sting with the threat of tears. But I wasn’t sad. I was the happiest I’ve ever felt. And almost crying before I was about to sing was my soul’s way of telling me that this is what I was meant to do – sing.
I recalled stepping into the spotlight, opening my mouth, and allowing my tongue to conduct the sounds from my voice as it soared through the air and gamboled over the notes in a way that cannot be expressed through words. I found that as I was singing, I changed from Sam van Adelsberg, a sixteen – year – old Beatles – worshiping and rock ‘n’ roll – loving fan, to Kim McAffee, a giddy self – confident fifteen – year – old in love with teen sensation Conrad Birdie. Just singing my character’s song on stage caused me to become so caught up in the moment that it was enough to alter my entire mind frame.
But to imagine if all that could be taken away? If the very core of my being could be shaken so violently that I lost the ability to make that sound come out of my throat? I probably wouldn’t have the strength to carry on with my daily life because, as I’ve found, I view the world through music. Music is how I feel. It’s my way of life. My life is like a song and in a silent, still world of deafness with nothing to hear and no beat to follow I don’t know if I could exist. Without music, the world would have dulled itself and colors would have no meaning.
Hypothetically, of course.
As I continue to define my life and discover where my interests and passions lie, I find myself drifting more and more into the realm of music. Through music, I’ve found that seeing is not the only way to know, just like touching is not the only way to feel. If these are true, so music must be another exploration of life. And along with peace and love, music is all you need. Music is really all you need.
So as for the question I’ve always struggled with? I think the answer’s pretty obvious.
But lucky for me, I don’t have to make that choice.
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