Who doesn’t want to be great!? I remember one of my first moments where I was poised for greatness. It was Jr. High. I’ve always loved to sing, so I took choir as my elective. It was my chance to spread my wings and sing like the songbird that was in my heart, a songbird that was a majestic eagle of music.
We were rehearsing for an upcoming concert – I remember we were singing the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. We had to change the words “Them good ole boys were drinking whisky and rye” to “Them good ole boys were drinking Canada Dry” because hello we were twelve years old. Our choir director, Ms. Cheney, wasn’t dumb!
Anyway, Ms. Cheney was mixing us all up, from the usual spots where we stood and she put me in the front row, in the center. Whoa. I was going to be a star for sure. And then… I could hardly believe this… she put Nikki right next to me. Nikki was the cutest girl in 8th grade. She was the girl all the boys wanted to date.
And she was standing right next to me. We got to sing together, make little jokes. Did I need any more proof this was my God-ordained moment?
I assure you, my 12-year-old self did not.
Then the night of the concert came. We lined up, Nikki behind me. She was in a black dress. I was in a black and gold cummerbund. We walked out, standing shoulder-to-shoulder at center stage. This was it, the very moment for me to let my inner song-eagle soar. The audience would erupt into thunderous applause, shower me with roses and all those song producers would have to wait while Nikki and I finally and very dramatically held hands and gazed awkwardly at each other.
And then, just before we began, Ms. Cheney came over to me and stage-whispered in my ear between me and Nikki.
“You tend to be pretty pitchy, so try not to sing so loud.”
I was devastated. Pitchy? Why did she wait until this moment to tell me? Why did she put me front and center? And then I saw the look in Nikki’s eyes… pity.
My song eagle would not spread his wings this night, my friends. No roses. No awkward adolescent hand-holding. My dream had been crushed.
I wish that story had some sort of happier ending but it doesn’t. That’s how my dream of being a singer ended, more or less. I was still in choirs off and on. I was even a lead screamer for a metal band for a while (because screaming is a lot easier to do on pitch).
But I will never forget that feeling, that moment when all the wind blew out of my sails.
Have you ever had a dream crushed like that? Have you ever had a vision of the future that felt so real and exciting to you and had someone bring it crashing down?
Let’s talk about dreams – dreams that have way more stakes than 8th grade choir. Let’s talk about dangerous dreams, dreams that threaten the status quo. Dreams that provoke a response from those in charge of the status quo.