I'm kind of a musical dunce. Name just about any band and I have no idea who you're talking about. I mean, I dig music, I like to dance (especially with my little girl Isabella), and we sing together loads as a family.
Mostly we sing songs we make up. Sometimes we sing our conversations.
Anyway, because I am such a musical illiterate, I cycle through a grand total of three songs at Isabella's bedtime: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," James Taylor's "You Can Close Your Eyes," and Peter Yarrow's "Puff the Magic Dragon."
It's pathetic to know only three songs, but it's also comforting. The songs have become like a favorite baseball hat or old slippers.
So last night, Isabella, who is feeling a bit under the weather, sat on the couch next to me and asked if we could watch Dorothy on YouTube. By this, she means, can we watch Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, because, hell, it's just about the only song we know.
Next comes a shout from the bedroom where Michelle is reading: "Can you play the version I like?" What Michelle wants is to hear is a version of Rainbow by the Hawaiian singer and ukulele player, the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (see above or click here if you can't see the video).
Now it's true that Isabella does not like this version as much. She says about Israel, "He doesn't know how to do it right."
But as for me, I watch this incredibly obese man (he weighed 758 pounds at one stage, apparently) playing this incredibly tiny instrument, and he sings the most beautiful version of one of our three bedtime songs and--sue me for being corny--I suddenly feel incredibly sentimental about being part of the human race.
And Isabella starts to sing. With her lisp. "Thumbwhere" over the Rainbow. And she sits on the couch and, despite her objections to Israel instead of Dorothy, she belts it out.
What this has to do with saving the planet? It's hard to say. But it says something. Because as F'ed up as we all are, as much as it sometimes seems that we're more destructive than anything else, as few songs as we know, I'm proud to say we all still sing.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.