Everyone has at least one secret talent. I roam open mics and acoustic nights silently waiting to unleash my hidden ability on the unassuming world. They never see it coming. Why would anyone think that quiet fellow in the corner with no musical instrument would be performing?
I sing with no musical accompaniment, a feat that always gets statements like "Wow that takes courage." People are dying in wars and my feeble attempts at singing are deemed courageous. Go figure.
Every time I do it I am terrified. I run through all the anxious cliches. My guts twist into knots. My palms sweat. My mouth goes dry. My nervous bladder will send me rushing to the bathroom several times. Then it will happen. I will be up. I walk up with my stack of lyrics. I look out into the audience, only to be blinded by spotlights.
Being in front of crowds makes me nervous and when I get nervous I shake uncontrollably, so much so it probably looks as if I am having a seizure. Oddly enough, it never affects my voice.
I can't imagine what people think as I quake from head-to-toe attempting to sing from a pile of papers. It can't be that visually appealing. The reception is either a puzzled, obligatory clapping or an equally baffled, but enthusiastic applause.
I am well aware that I must confuse the hell out of people. It must be mystifying to hear an a cappella version of "London Calling." And it must be dumbfounding to hear a solo, purely vocal version of "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Yet, somehow I manage to not butcher these songs. If the uproarious cheers are any indication I must be doing them justice. So, now I am the baffled one for I have no musical training. It is just something that comes out of me.
What inspires a quivering non-singer to suddenly start singing, in front of crowds no less? I discovered the cathartic release of singing just last summer. It doesn't matter if I am any good. It's a pure emotional expression that I need to share. I may use other's word, but it is my soul on display.
We spend most of our lives hiding behind facades. We wear different masks depending on the situations and people involved. It's a defense mechanism, a way of letting only certain people in. Singing is the removal of my mask.
I pour myself into the songs and when people respond to them positively I feel connected to something greater than myself. Through singing, I find an understanding of myself that I am able to share with others. Of course, compulsive shaking aside, on the most basic level it is fun.
I was once asked: "Is that a joke or serious?" To that I said, "Well what do you think?" Whether it is laughter, cheers or a mixture of both, I don't care. Do with it what you will. The rush is the same either way.
Any performer will tell you of the natural high of being in front of an audience. It is frightening and exhilarating at the same time. And so I keep doing it. In spite of my nerves. In spite of my fears.