Last night, we were having dinner with friends and the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow*, sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, was playing. The way that he sang and “mixed up” the original lyrics was so touching to me. I don’t generally like re-makes of songs (or anything else) but his version was magic. He brought to life something new and unique, and that shined through, and we all felt it.
A couple of years ago, Jack and I were stopped as we got out of our car by a man (someone Jack vaguely knew) who wanted to show us the paintings/assemblages that he had just completed. They were in his van and he was driving to a gallery to set them up for a show. As he pulled them out, one by one, I felt turned off. The images were dark and, at least to me, uninteresting.
But it wasn’t this so much that bothered me, but what he was saying. As he proudly presented each one he kept saying things like, “This is my own unique style. No one else has created in this way….” and the feeling I got was that he was trying to be unique and different. He obviously had a lot of talent but he wanted his work to stand out as unique, and that somehow made it feel flat.
We do not need to try to be unique. We are unique. Most of us have just covered that uniqueness up, from years of trying to be something better, different, more interesting, or more special, than we think we are. You, me, we, couldnt’ be more special. Each one of us has the ability to stop others in their tracks, and bring them to tears of Love…just by being real…just by being ourselves.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
* This version of the song is a combination of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World