In the end, everything passes away. There are many sites in Central and South America left by the Mayan and Incan civilizations that have never been excavated, and no one really knows what happened to the people of those great civilizations, some of whom just seemed to have picked up and disappeared. We do not understand the great markings of the Nazca Plains that can only be seen from the sky, nor do we know who made Stonehenge or why, or how the giant statues got on Easter Island thousands of miles from land. The people who made all these things have been long gone.
In the end, when we die, we will not be able to take our bodies and our voices along for whatever comes after. If there is another life, if we re-incarnate, we will get a new body with new capabilites……this piece of flesh will never be again as it is now. If we have something to offer while we are alive, it is only for a period of time. Infants don’t make recordings and very old people rarely do. For a certain number of years we can use our voices deliberately and can, if we wish, speak and sing in a deliberate manner. We can train the voice and body to do our bidding and we can use it to perform in accordance with our choices of music or words. During this period of time, the voice is always changing…improving, growing and expanding or decaying, losing ability, coming apart. It follows the body and/or the body allows it to do what it does. They are, after all, partners always.
Yet, while it exists, it is a glorious thing, the voice. It carries with it energy that cannot be expressed the same way by any other means. And even though the voice is finite, the idea of singing is not. People have likely always sung and always will sing until there is no longer a human race. The singer passes away but not the singing, not the song. Those who passionately explore, study, examine, develop, create, investigate, express and enjoy singing do so with enthusiasm. They act as if singing were the most important thing in the world. While they are alive, singing is the reason to go on living. As Bernice Johnson Reagon says, “Singing is the reason to get to the songs and the songs are what you came here for”.
All that really matters is how much love we experience. How much love we give out, how much love we can experience (there is no limit), how much love sits under every moment of life. This alone is what gives meaning to everything else. If we truly love singing and singers, if we love everything in the process of singing, then it carries the full measure of what it means to be a human being in it. It has no inherent permanent value in and of itself but as a vehicle for spiritual awakening, it is as good a means as any to discover that which will never pass away. Nothing matters, everything matters. Singing is a doorway between the two.