One Track

Unfortunately, I’m kind of a one-track guy.

I need quiet to concentrate, and if a lot of noise is going on, or if any noise is going on, I have to cover my ears to keep my thoughts from running together.  Not to mention if I am trying to read or study something… it gets even worse then. I need it to be quiet. Not dead silent or anything…  just, as my dad would say, no racket.

Guess I’m just getting old…

So recently, while relaxing in my bedroom, trying to read, my then 12 year old daughter decides to start singing at the top of her lungs in the next room.  Now, I’m pretty easy to get along with, and she is a great singer.  Her voice is beautiful, she has a great ear for pitch, and I’m always encouraging her to sing.

But during this particular time, I was doing something. Sure, I was sitting in that old, blue, worn-out recliner that I am ashamed to put in the living room, but I was absorbed in what I was reading, and I was busy.  And my initial response, muttered under my breath, was… “I sure wish she would just SHUT UP so I can think!”

But she didn’t.

The more I tried to read, the louder she got.  You would’ve thought she was at Carnegie Hall, performing an audience-demanded encore.  It sounded like she was singing a song for all the nations of the world at once, and yes, people,  she wanted each and every one of them to hear her.

You know… just like I had told her to do.  Just like I’ve encouraged her to do.  “Sweetheart, you can’t do all this little mousey-voice singing.  You’ve got to belt it out! Don’t be shy… Support your tone, open your mouth, and sing!”

How do you negate all that?  How do you say, “Do all those things that I told you do… just don’t do them right now.  Can’t you see I’m busy?  Can’t you see I’m working here?  Couldja tone it down just a little bit?”

While arguing with myself, and trying to justify being able, just this once, to tell her to pipe down, it all suddenly dawned on me.  The revelation all came crashing down with a vengeance on one-track guy.

While I was sitting there in my room, in my old easy chair, my daughter’s life, like a fragile, fragrant rose, was unfolding just thirty feet away… All the moments, all the experiences, all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of life that culminate into a beautiful existence… those precious times, those times that only come just once to a dad like me… they were all happening in the very next room.

And I had wanted her to stop?

That’s when I stopped… to listen. She hit a particularly high note, and held it, with all the gusto and vibrato she could muster, then tripped, like a deft ballet dancer, nimbly down the scale, arriving at the low notes with body, and fullness.

How could I have missed this before?

What could have been so important, so pressing, that I would leave my first born, my only daughter, experiencing alone the quickly passing moments of her life?  What could have held my attention, vise-like, leaving me oblivious to the irreplaceable, tailor-made-just-for-me-like-me gift of God, singing a song that might never be sung again?

Dumbly, I looked back down at the object of my former desire that had so entranced me beforehand.  It was my iPhone.  The important “reading” I had been doing was my twitter feed.

Tears welled up in my eyes, blurring out the inane ramblings and the endless blabbering minutiae of a thousand strangers, and opened my spirit to the music of a song sang not for the masses…but just for me.

It was at that point, I realized the sound of her voice was fading.  She had begun to move away from me, toward the back of the house.  Sounded like my previous wish was coming true… but that wasn’t what I wanted anymore.  The very last thing that I wanted was for her to move away, the last thing on earth that I wanted was her voice, the voice of her youth, to fade in my ears…

I laid that phone down, and walked toward the living room, where my daughter sang on, unaware of me watching her.  That’s when I took her hand, and one-track guy focused all of mind and spirit  on her… and we began to dance.

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