For Alex, who is more alive than anyone else I know and whose love changed my world in a moment x
“Mummy this is my happy song and it’s my favourite when I’m in your car.”
Singing, clapping and bopping along to Ed Sheeran’s new Album on our way to return books to the local Library today my almost 5 year old showed me just how much he understands about life and how to live it. He’s a person who dances and sings when he feels like it. Freely, with feeling and enthusiasm dancing and singing to music he escapes into the pure joy of the moment, of being human and being alive. He is a person who knows how to live, the secret the rest of us agonise over and think about far too much in our adult lives. He, on the other hand, just is. Music is something to share, the joy of melodious storytelling and the inner spirit of life it brings out in those who enjoy it and let it take them away and into the moment in front and behind them is worth more than any commodity in terms of goods you can buy in the shops.
When we come to the end of our lives, I’ve heard it said that people’s number one regret is that they didn’t spend more time with their loved ones. Nobody ever wishes at that point that they had spent more time at work or more money on goods. Experiences, art, love and time with those that you do is what life is about. They are the only things of any real value in this world. Life is empty without these most valuable of things. Travel, creation, giving of your time and attention to those who need and deserve it, using our talents for good to create joy these are the things we should be spending our lives doing and collecting rather than material goods and wealth. When I think back over the happiest times in my life none of them have to do with material good or wealth. Every single one of them has to do with time spent with others, joy experienced, intrinsic rewards and wonders felt at experiencing life propelled each time by the forces of human love and the world around us in one form or another.
For Ed Sheeran and those like him, their talent and gift to the world is music. It brings joy and comfort to others and helps bind societies and people together. Music shows all of us how similar we are, that for all the differences that divide us there is something deeper that unites us and that something brings more joy than any commercial good. We all have talents we can use in this world to bring joy to others ad reflected joy to ourselves. In my job I often find that I get so much more back than I give to anyone else and it’s something that has no price tag. My talents lie in creating human connections and developing relationships, in helping give voice to those who don’t have the skills to use theirs to the same extent that I do. Working as an Integration Aide for the first time this year, more closely alongside students with learning, behavioural and intellectual difficulties than I ever did as a Teacher I’ve experienced a new sort of reward and discovered talents I never even knew I had but more than that I’ve discovered those of others – the students I now work with. They have made me a richer human being for utilising my talents in a new way.
Sitting in a Year 10 English class just this past week alongside a student I was reading a plot summary of the class novel for the term. A conversation was described in the summary between two characters in which one was arguing that the stability of the Utopian Society created in the world of the novel had come at the cost of Art, Science and Religion and that without these things human life was not worth living. Writing for me has always been my therapy and my connection point to the world and my fellow human beings. It’s my art form and outlet for self-expression. All Art does this, music, writing, the stage, film, dance, painting, sculpture, design or creation in any form are the things that bind us together, that allow us to live in the moment, that tell us who we are, that give joy to our hearts and food to our soul. We are starved of the essence of life without them and for my almost 5 year old they not only teach him how to live they are how he lives. There’s a lesson in there for all of us.