“Vision kind of funny when I’m looking through these eyes/
Witnessing the cattle orchestrating their demise/
See truthfully I really ain’t surprised/
Natural end is death when one is breeding only lies/”
Dear Virtual Diary,
Not sure when I will post this but on the weekend of October 29th I participated in a Japanese chorus and it was rather enjoyable. We sang three songs, 心の瞳 (Kokoro no Hitomi)、Amazing Grace and 群青 (Gunjyō). While it was very enjoyable, it was one of the hardest things I had to do, since arriving in Japan. Particularly because of, 1) two of the three songs are entirely in Japanese and 2) we had to perform these songs in a live concert.
Ironically, I cannot sing at all. I think there was misunderstanding due to some information received about me and my musical talents. Before I arrived to Japan my musical efforts were shared and passed around to my Japanese host family. I think that after finding out about my interests in music led some to believe that I was talented in the vocal department.
Rap and singing are two entirely two separate abilities.
Needless to say half way through practicing these songs I wanted to just drop out of the chorus and give up. Performing and messing up these songs, in my mind, could lead to incredible embarrassment on my part and/or worse, mess up some of the other chorus members timing. It is one thing to be in a chorus where you don’t stick out, no one is really focused on you, you can get away with the odd slip up. But being one of the only handful of foreigners on Kurahashi Island is probably going garner some focused attention, especially if you are singing in a language no one really expects you to speak.
For example, I am pretty much confident that at least one Japanese elder (that is the majority of my island’s population) was like “Wow this guy actually knows Japanese well enough to keep up with the chorus? Let me watch him solely because I probably won’t see this again before I die.”
The equivalent of this for me would probably be seeing some big ass giant that looked like it couldn’t skate for shit play ice hockey. In Canada I can watch hockey any damn time I want, why would I watch the skilled Canadian guys when there’s clearly someone there playing and creating a situation I probably won’t ever see again in my life time.
During practice, the songs were just way too difficult for me. Between trying to remember the lyrics, staying in the right note and keeping up with the tempo it was proving quite difficult. Besides that, I had my day job, which I tend to put a lot of time into preparing lessons. I was stretching myself pretty thin. I reached out to a friend one week before the performance and he was able to help me get to a level where I didn’t stink…so bad.
Still stunk though.
The show went on, it was great and I ended up grateful that I never dropped out.
The best part I liked about this whole experience was that I really had to push myself. I am an adamant believer that in 2016 it is far too difficult to push yourself to the limits of your abilities. Even with living in Japan, the language barrier has become pretty much normative for me now and I have learned to handle communicative challenges when they arise. Thinking back to my first time in Japan and how much more comfortable I am with not understanding everything that is going on. The idea and experience of this was terrifying. That is what makes us human I guess, in the end we always “become a custom”.
When I think about what I achieved I have to admit that learning these songs really had not physical benefit, other than increasing my singing ability? Honestly, I was content to simply feel the maelstrom of fervour. Great passion to accomplish something you truly care about. That passion can be for tasks as great as wanting to create the Eiffel Tower or as small as painting a portrait painting.
With these tasks you can certainly separate the work effort and claim one over the other, but the PASSION, the emotion that each artists feels cannot be outweighed. I think that is something that I have reinforced lately. Focus on your task and pour your entire being into it. Don’t worry about being #1 or the best; this is a good way of taking the focus off yourself and looking at others. This simply detracts from you own preparation.
Preparation, patience and progress.
We take short cuts. How can we say what we want to say as fast as possible.
Instant gratification is not the way and the tortoise had the right idea all along.