On Friday night last weekend we went to the 5th grade talent show at my kids’ elementary school. I admit, I was dreading it.
The night included singing, dancing, gymnastics, comedy and TaeKwonDo. (Sadly, I’m realizing as I type, no instruments). Did the kids wow me with their talent? Did we have the next American Idol or Olympian in our midst? Well, likely not, but we smiled and cheered and teared up and sang along and laughed more in that hour than we had in weeks. And none of them were even my kids. It was one of the best evenings I’ve had in awhile.
I learned a few things in that hour about art and life that night that I hope I don’t soon forget.
The beauty of art is the courage
Before a note was sung or a board was kicked Friday night, each child was cheered not for what they had already done but what they were going to do. See, the real win Friday night was that they showed up.
At some point in the last weeks, they had decided it was worth it to stand on a stage and share their gift. They showed up for an audition and were vulnerable enough for someone to judge them. Then, standing in front of a crowd of hundreds ranging from infant to grandparent, they stood. And then they never left. Even when the rhythm was lost and the line was forgotten, they stood and they kept going.
The beauty of our art is not that we show up and do it well but that we have the courage to show up at all.
People cheer the loudest when you mess up
Some might think the win of sharing your art is the accolades of when you do it perfectly. But, from what I heard and saw Friday night, the loudest cheers and the biggest smiles were when someone messed up and then stayed. The crowds erupted with encouragement and parents plastered on smiles to let them know they were still proud.
One of my favorite moments was looking around during a performance that wasn’t perfect and yet, every single person had a smile on their face. I especially loved the grandfathers that were beaming with pride–at someone else’s grandchild.
It’s ok to mess up at our attempts at our art. People are the happiest when we mess up and then we keep going–probably more than if we did it perfectly from the start.
Fun isn’t a waste of time, but the best time
For some of us, it’s easy to dismiss the jokesters and comedians, but let me tell you, listening to elementary kids telling silly jokes and reciting Who’s On First are some of my favorite moments from the night. There is a talent to memorizing the lines and getting the timing, your voice and your physical movements all in sync. And a room full of adults laughed and smiled and clapped.
Having fun is some of the best art out there.
And by the way, why did the skeleton stay home from the dance?
He had nobody to go with.
Guys, I don’t care what kind of art you make–because we all make something–get out there and do it. Trust me when I say the world will be a happier place no matter how it goes. Just show up.