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Susan Ann Darley
Susan Ann Darley : Fitting in... or Not

Fitting in... or Not

By Susan Ann Darley

There is a beautiful story circulating through the Internet about a tribe in Africa.

In this African tribe when a woman becomes pregnant, she prays and meditates with the midwives and old women of the village until they hear the song of the child. After learning the song they return to their tribe and teach it to everyone else. Upon birth the community sings the song to the baby. Through life changes from childhood to adulthood to death, friends and family gather together to sing the person's unique song.

In the child's lifetime if they fall and hurt their knee, someone picks them up and sings their song to them. If they commit a crime or display negative behavior, the person is called to the center of the village. The tribal members then form a circle around them and sing their song to them recognizing that it is love and remembrance of identity that heals.

As a little child I overheard my grandmother say to my mom about me, "She's just cut off a different bolt." I thought what does she mean? I have two legs and arms. I speak the same language. Why does she think I'm different?

Growing up I began to wonder, 'where do I fit in — do I even have a song?'

Entering the working world of 8-5 p.m. only served to heighten my dilemma. I definitely did not fit in. Yet there I was sitting behind a desk answering phones with dyslexic ears struggling to make sense of my life.

Then I began to discover my creativity. Along with it my song began to emerge and with it a resurgence of energy and excitement. Over the years with the nurturing of my artistic side, my song has become stronger giving me courage to express myself honestly with clear intention. It has helped to move me beyond people pleasing, allowed me to set healthy boundaries and connected me with members of my tribe — fabulous, sensitive and caring friends.

Do you know your song?

In order to discover the expectant child's song the African women became quiet through prayer and meditation. They began to quietly listen and intuitively trust what they heard. They were listening for the child's true identity lying in repose at the level of the soul. They were listening for the still small voice that would guide and bless the expectant child through his or hers life's journey.

What is your song? Is it still buried deep in the recesses of your heart? Or is it occasionally expressed in moments of uninhibited joy? Does it sing to you through your art? Does your art sing your song to the world?

Can you imagine living your entire life and never hearing your song? Some do. For them life is colorless and drab — full of suffering and pain. Can you imagine what happens to them when they begin to hear their song? Hope is born. And with the courage to begin expressing their individual song life takes on new meaning and purpose.

Listen for your song and begin to sing it. Don't stifle it out of fear of where it will take you. Your song will give you all you need to live a peaceful, prosperous and purposeful life. It will allow you to breathe. It will allow you to soar. It is your freedom.

Art does and always has contributed to the healing of the world. It awakens and opens the hearts of others in order for them to begin to hear their unique song.

With every stroke of your brush, every performance, every artistic creation you mold, courageously express your song. Whether it's a soft refrain or sung loudly, give it wings to rise above the ordinary — above the chaos into the harmony of the spheres.

Don't worry if it feels too solo or bends the rules or challenges the status quo.

The other day I said to my 89-year-old mother, "I wonder if I'll ever fit in." She replied with wisdom, "Are you supposed to?" •

© 2006 Susan Ann Darley. All rights reserved.

Susan Ann DarleySusan Ann Darley is a coach, author and workshop leader who works with people from all professions to increase their personal awareness and enhance their creativity. More »

5/21/07