Jason had a work dinner last night, so I had the kids bathed and in bed by 7 so I could settle into my pj's and the couch to unwind from a good, but busy day. I usually watch American Idol with the kids, but felt like listening to the boys sing without answering a million questions ("Is he any good, Mom?", "Do you like his clothes, Mom?", "I wonder what Simon will say", etc.), so I found it on the PVR and watched all by myself.
Tim Urban, a guy with long, curly hair who has struggled so far to find his own voice in the competition, chose the Jeff Buckley version of 'Hallelujah', the Leonard Cohen penned masterpiece. That song brings me to tears whenever I hear it (when the kids are watching Shrek or KD Lang's performance at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics) and last night was no exception.
There is something deeply piercing about a performance where the singer is making a genuine connection with the audience. When the singer believes in what they are singing and feels it deeply, that passion comes across loud and clear, and never fails to move me. It touched a chord, buried in my soul somewhere, and I felt as though I was swimming in rivers of gratitude, flowing and ebbing around me with an appreciation of life and pain and all hidden depths of feeling in this human experience. Life is equal measures of pain and joy. One anchors the other. Without pain, the joy wouldn't have its full meaning, and the reverse is true as well.
Last night, listening to Tim Urban sing, I experienced a keen identification with the double-edged sword of our emotions. I realized again how valuable it is to stay open to our feelings, and not to shut down because we don't want to feel pain. How empty life would be without those swelling crests of emotion. We must ride those waves to wherever they will take us. I love the phrase, "It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah". We rejoice, but it's imperfect - cold and broken. The true measure of courage is continuing on, every day, in spite of pain. It will form us, change us, improve us if we will allow it to.