Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Two Cents



Susan Boyle.  Yes I am going to talk about her.  I know, it's been done and done, and overdone.  But I am one of those people who has watched that clip over and over and I can't help it, I am going to write about her.  Brace yourselves.  

By now we all know how homely, mousy and quirky little Susan Boyle stepped up to the mic and wowed the world with a vocal performance exceeding our judging-a-book-by-it's-cover expectations.  To be fair, she was a little socially awkward.  And often when people lack a basic sense of  self awareness it's not entirely strange to think she might have the same lack of self awareness when it comes to her voice.   We were wrong.  The judges were wrong.  And boy we were sooooo happy to be wrong!  The world has really embraced Susan Boyle and for good reason....we all love an underdog story.  But it's not just the underdog story that has me watching her video again and again.  What really stands out to me is her humility and my shame.      

Here are the things we know about Susan:  She's not the most attractive woman and she's not especially fashionable.  As previously mentioned, she could be slightly awkward at times.  She's an unemployed charity worker.  She's 47.  She lives with her cat, has never been married and more shocking still, has never even been kissed.  

I may be taking some liberties here but I don't think by much when I say it seems to me that Susan Boyle has waited a long time for something good to happen to her.  A little ray of sunshine in a drab little life.  Yet, she does not seem angry, jaded, callous or broken.  In a recent article asking about the possibilities of a make-over CNN quoted her as saying, "Why should I?  Why should I change?"--but did predict one big lifestyle change.  "I won't be lonely," she said, "I certainly won't be lonely anymore."  As I watched that clip of her over and over again having her moment in the sun I couldn't help be think about the decades she waited--alone--to get there.  I wonder how her 20's passed her by.  Were people kind?  Did she ever go on a date?  Did she still have hope of marriage and family?  Then her 30's and 40's.... What was her life like up until this point?  Lonely, it seems.       

I have felt lonely before...for like a few months.  Not years, and certainly not decades.  I cringe when I think of the times I have felt impatient with life and certainly with God, when compared to the patience of the Susan Boyle's of the world.  How often I have felt entitled to blessings that I have not earned.  Could I have endured such loneliness and still be as upbeat, kind and humble as Susan?  I think prolonged loneliness is one of the great under-recognized trials of life.  I'm not suggesting she has perfect patience and grace, I obviously don't know, but I could not find one ounce of bitterness in that woman and for that she commands my respect.  

The thought that really bothers me is what if Susan Boyle couldn't sing a lick?  What if she was really, really bad?  How hard would we have laughed at her?  How quickly would she have been dismissed and forgotten?  Too hard and too quickly.   

Not long ago I remember hearing a man talk about a serious plane crash that he walked away from.  A crash that many people were killed in, but he was not.  As he sat there watching people burn and die in the plane, he says that he saw what appeared to be their spirits leaving their bodies as they died.  He said some spirits were much brighter than others, and it was his belief that the brightness of their spirit was directly related to how 'good' or righteous the person was during their life.  That experience changed him because he now believed in an afterlife and he tried harder to be a good person because of that belief.  Sometimes I really wish that we could see the brightness of each others spirits.  Of course I believe that the brightness of our spirits will one day be fully revealed and we will see who the truly great ones really are, but in the meantime we are crippled in that we are only allowed to see the outside.  

I am reminded of this quote from C.S. Lewis:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.... Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. 

While I think Susan is a fantastic singer, I'm not sure that's her best quality...only the best most obvious quality.  I was so happy to cheer on a humble and long deserving Susan Boyle, at the same time so ashamed of myself to realize how easily I would have dismissed her had she not been a great singer.  And even more ashamed still to admit that I sometimes continue to dismiss other Susan Boyle's of the world, even if only in private.  

Here's hoping to see some positive changes in both our lives.       



12 comments:

  1. I thought that was lovely, Amy. I watched that over and over also, wondering at times, those very same questions. What is moving me and allowing these tears to simply stream down my face? What is it with this woman that all I can think to do is grab my kids and have them watch and learn? I think you are right. I didn't know what to expect because what we tend to expect is praised taunting and giggling at someone who is "less" than. How terrible it is, that even I, choose to elevate myself above someone as wonderfully, humble as Susan Boyle. She is my hero.

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  2. thank you for this post.
    i hadn't heard of susan boyles, and i too watched her over & over on youtube. i was so moved. there is a big lesson to be learned here and i hope i can learn it.

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  3. Well said, my friend. Thank you for sharing your introspection. I was very touched when I heard her sing and was very glad when she shocked the world. I hope that I can also learn from Susan Boyle's example.

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  4. Though I haven't heard Susan Boyle sing, I found this post to be so touching. Thank you. I find myself examining my own snap judgments. I think I'll try to go through the day imagining everyone I meet as some future God or Goddess, and see how much that changes my interactions.

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  5. This is so inspiring, and so beautifully written. :)

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  6. What a beautiful post!!!

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  7. Can I say that I love you? ...

    While I'm crying (and sleep deprived and nursing)...or would it just be my hormones talking?

    I love you.

    You have a beautiful spirit. I had these same thoughts (they were mostly feelings) and you articulated them so beautifully. This was magnificent.

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  8. Thanks. I sometimes hesitate to post some things that could come off cheesy and thus insincere. So thanks.

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  9. That was well written and thought out---I have been sent the link about 10 times, but came away with the feeling that it is sad America doesn't recognize or let people with real talent like that even get in the door, because of their age or looks----that is what is sad.

    Its admirable that the UK does it.

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  10. Okay, you did it. You wrote something about Susan Boyle that I can get behind. Prolonged loneliness. EXACTLY. I hadn't even thought about that. And I've been thinking about loneliness all the time these days. My heart goes out to Susan Boyle just for her loneliness--"Lay Miserobs" or no.

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  11. I just came here from The Apron Stage. This wasn't cheesy or maudlin at all, it's just beautiful, and put into words exactly what I find moving about Susan Boyle's "discovery." Thanks, too, for sharing that wonderful quote from C. S. Lewis, which, to my surprise, I'd never read before.

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  12. Just last night I found myself being kind of mean about some former roommates/classmates in the name of humor. I justified it thinking that for some reason, it didn't count if it was just to Mike that I was saying these things, but of course it counts. I woke up thinking to myself that I wanted to be nicer and more respectful of everyone, and then here I read your blog and you captured so elequently my exact thoughts in the past 24 hours. Thanks for the boost- you are fantastic. And thank you for introducing me, your TV-less bubble-girl friend, to the incredible Susan Boyle.

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