Yesterday, I sang. Well, more like my mouth opened up and out came a song, as if my body knew what it needed at that moment. What came out was something from my past, something I thought I’d long since forgotten, an old Italian art song from the days when I studied opera: “Gia il sole dal gange,” by Scarlatti. It’s a light, allegro melody that dances happily.
After that song, others flowed out from where they’d been stowed all these years, maybe for safekeeping, for when I’d need them most: “Nel cor più non mi sento;” “Amarilli, mia bella;” “Pur dicesti, o bocca bella;” songs from Bellini’s Composizioni da Camera: “Dolente immagine di fille mia,” “Per pietà, bell’idol mio,” and my favorite, “Ma rendi pur contento.” I sang my heart out for an hour, transporting myself to a happier, more idyllic time, when I was immersed in voice studies at The Singer’s Forum in New York. My body vibrated with sound, my voice filled the emptiness of the street outside.
Then the sobbing came.
My sadness, my fears, my sense of loss all came pouring out. These emotions, too, had been stowed since this pandemic began, perhaps waiting until I felt strong enough to feel them. The singing gave me that strength, that outlet. The act of singing—breathing, supporting the breath, giving voice to my deepest feelings—activated what I had been suppressing. And today, I feel stronger.
I read an article by a psychologist who said we are actually all experiencing mourning: loss of sense of security, loss of innocence, loss of our normal lives, global loss of life. Yesterday, I realized that was true for me. If it’s possibly true for you, take some time to check in with yourself now. You can try the breathing exercise I recommended, here. If you are experiencing sadness, give it an outlet before it becomes depression. Whether it’s listening to moving music, or watching a tearjerker, get those tears flowing if they’re stuck in there. Or, if you prefer, do the opposite: dance and sing until you shake out the demons. Whatever it takes to get in touch with your true feelings.
We’re talking a lot about how to feel better during this time, but sometimes it’s about allowing yourself to feel your pain. It’s only when you feel the fullness of your emotions that you are truly strong and at peace. Happiness is not the absence of pain; it’s embracing life in the full—the good and the bad—with gratitude.
Song of the day
Here, a recording I made yesterday of my singing “Ma rendi pur contento,” by Bellini. It’s a little shaky with emotion, but maybe all the better for it. My gift to you, dear reader. Listen via this player below.
Tip of the day
You know what I’m going to say: Get singing! Put on your favorite music and sing your heart out. It doesn’t matter if you can carry a tune or not. Sing whatever stirs your soul. Give voice to your feelings in a way that is constructive and musical. Afterward, spend a few minutes getting in touch with how you’re feeling. If tears are there, let them out. Have a good cry, but for no more than one minute, because we don’t want a downward spiral, just a release. Then dry your eyes, stretch out your arms, breathe, and smile. Repeat as needed. If you find yourself truly in the grips of depression, please contact a mental health professional. You are not alone.