Rev. Susan Eaton
Go Ahead! Toot Your Own Horn
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Our back porch is one of my favorite places for reading and spending time alone with God, especially in the morning. I enjoy breathing the fresh air, feeling the gentle breezes, and listening to the singing birds that provide a pleasant soundtrack to my thoughts.
On most days it’s all very peaceful. But occasionally my peaceful and serene sanctuary is disrupted with other not-so-peaceful sounds. Sometimes the garbage truck will come by and, instead of the birds, I hear the beeping of the back-up signal and the “boom” of the mechanical arms dumping the trash into the back. Sometimes a neighbor (or two, or three) will come out with a lawnmower, or leaf blower, or weed eater (or all of the above).
But the other morning I was met with a new sound that has recently been filling our neighborhood: the sound of a trumpet in the hands of a new sixth-grade band student.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard the neighborhood trumpeter, but this was the first time I thoroughly enjoyed listening. Not because it was good, mind you, but because it was so free and exuberant. The sounds that made their way through our neighborhood were not organized or rehearsed. They were not scales or the carefully planned notes of a piece of music. No, these sounds were simply the result of what I imagine to be countless experiments by a child excited about his new instrument.
I pulled out my phone and recorded the “music” that was now blessing everyone in the neighborhood whether they wanted the blessing or not. I’m not sure why this excited new trumpeter was playing outside just after sun-up. Perhaps he was showing off his new talent for his friends while they all waited for the school bus.
The longer I listened the more I giggled. I was amused by this child that didn’t seem to give one thought to how early it was. It mustn’t have occurred to him that people might still be in bed or that they might simply be trying to ease themselves slowly and quietly into the day. I giggled as I thought about how many other people in our neighborhood were now unwilling concert-goers simply because this child was excited about what he could do and wanted to show it off to his friends. What freedom!
Do you remember when you were free like that? Free to dance. Free to twirl. Free to squeal with joy. Free to draw a picture and hold it up for everyone to admire. “Look what I did!”
We were all once free like that. Then somewhere along the way, our freedom became caged and we began to hold back. We feared criticism. We feared failing. We feared not being good enough. We feared rejection. So we stopped trying new things. We stopped putting ourselves out there for fear that we wouldn’t be perfect.
My neighborhood trumpeter has reminded me that I want to live freely. I want to try new things and be okay with not doing them perfectly. I want to live with joy and share my gifts—however imperfect they may be. I want to be exuberant and fearless.
If it’s been a while since you’ve allowed yourself to try something new or share something you’ve created, I pray you will have the courage to just go for it. You don’t have to be perfect. Perfection is a myth that will keep you caged and defeated. Try something new, and then share your joy over your new skill with others.
But if it’s a new trumpet skill, perhaps wait until noon.