Stink And Be Free
Kate Yandoh on Life
What could karaoke possibly teach you about living a more fulfilling life? One hint: it has nothing to do with perfect pitch.
Most of us have a long list of things we’d like to try someday. Maybe it’s windsurfing, writing a poem, or taking up the musical instrument we wish we’d played in the high school band. Why aren’t we doing it? Of course, there’s the proverbial “I’m too busy,” but I think the real reason is a little closer to the stage than the time clock: we hesitate because we hate to do things badly. To really, really stink. To be an absolute beginner, in public, where people can see and snicker.
What happens when you just stop caring? Probably fun, and possibly magic. I get a little annoyed when a really, good singer takes the mic on karaoke night. If you’re that good, go sing in a band, or audition for something. Karaoke is not the place for trained perfection. It’s for bad, bold, and spirited. It’s where the best performances come from people who miss more notes than they hit, but are so into their song and suprised at their own performance that they leave the crowd cheering. They’ve taken a leap and embraced the words of Rumi, recently quoted to me by a very famous fellow who will be appearing in our next issue: “I want to sing like birds sing, not worrying who listens or what they think.”
The freedom to be bad can open up a world of possibilities. I’ve seen it myself in pursuit of two of my favorite (and definitely newer) hobbies, dancing and surfing. While I’ve felt the frustration that comes from wanting to be Excellent At Everything, but I’ve gotten a lot more or a rush from the times when I stopped trying, completely went for it, and, oddly enough, for at least a moment, ended up being not bad at all.