Driving the 401 from Lac La Grise, in the Laurentian Mountains, to Toronto is amongst one of the most boring drives you can imagine. After you leave the mountains its five monotonous hours back to the Big Smoke.
I've done that drive a million times–Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston, Tyendinaga, Picton, Belleville, Cobourg...and on and on. The only times it fails to be boring is when you can see the big birds flying-hawks, turkey vultures and ravens.
Or, when there's weather, usually around Kingston. That's where you're likely to hit a snow storm blowing in off Lake Ontario that renders visibility to zero and turns the highway into the world's longest skating rink. White knuckle time.
Last week I made the trek home from the cottage on that road, resigned to another day behind the wheel and fighting the trucks that love to plug up the passing lane for miles. Grrrr!
Flipping from radio station to radio station as the signal faded I was delighted to come across NPR's program World Cafe. It was being broadcast from somewhere in New York State and the signal was fine.
Suddenly the boredom of the drive was interrupted by my new radio companion, Rosanne Cash. I love Rosanne Cash, daughter of country legend, Johnny Cash. She has secured a place in my musical pantheon alongside of Steve Earl, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
World Cafe was airing a pair of interviews that had been conducted in 2006 and 2009 coinciding with the release of albums Black Cadillac and The List.
She is a fascinating person and a visionary artist.
In one segment of the program, the conversation turned to the two-year loss of her voice. She shared that she was afraid she may never be able to sing again. She decided then that if her voice ever returned, she would never allow herself to be critical of it again.
Cash shared that she had been very judgemental of her voice, comparing it's tone, range and resonance negatively. She did not think of herself as a great singer.
Of course, her voice returned and sher continues to be a creative force and a singular voice.
I reflected on this lesson as I continued to drive. Our gifts are supported when we are grateful for them and do not compare them with the gifts of other people. Our job is simply to accept, nurture and share our unique gifts and talents with the world.
When we are overly harsh and critical we damage our ability to express our beauty and uniqueness. What would the world be without Rosanne Cash and her art? What would have happened had she remained silent, never able or willing to sing again?
And what would the world be like if we all succumbed to the mean-spirited voices that seek to keep us small and silent?
About as dull as the 401.
Here's a link to NPR and Rosanne Cash. http://www.npr.org/2012/01/09/141020029/world-cafe-looks-back-rosanne-cash
© Patrick O’Neill 2012. All rights reserved.