In 1998, Walt Disney Pictures released a movie called “Mighty Joe Young”. The movie was about a huge gorilla named Joe living in the jungles of Africa. Joe is brought to the United States to save him from being killed by poachers, and he eventually ends up back in Africa on a wildlife refuge created especially for him.
It was a pretty good movie. But the best thing about the movie was an enchanting lullaby that kept appearing in the soundtrack throughout the entire movie. The song is entitled “Windsong”, and it was written and sung in the Swahili language.
I was captivated by this incredibly beautiful, soul-stirring composition the first time I heard it. But not knowing Swahili, I had no idea what the song was saying. So I did some research.
Sing a song,
And for a moment
You will be visited by the wind.
Sing a song,
And for a moment
Dream sweetly of the wind.
Sleep now until the night is dawn.
The wind and the night song, they are there;
However the song, my child, will go on forever.
There are a couple of thoughts from those lyrics that I want to discuss briefly.
Sing a Song
“Windsong” begins by encouraging us to “sing a song”. I believe that is what each of us should strive to do with our lives: SING A SONG.
I’m sure you remember the children’s television show Sesame Street. For many years, there was a man named Joe Raposo who was the staff songwriter for Sesame Street. He wrote many of the most famous songs from the show, including:
- the original Sesame Street Theme Song,
- Kermit the Frog’s song “Bein’ Green”, and
- Cookie Monster’s song “C is for Cookie”.
In 1972, Raposo wrote a song entitled “Sing”. It was originally performed on Sesame Street by members of the cast, both humans and Muppets, including Big Bird. The following year, however, it was released as a single by the singing duo The Carpenters, and went on to become a Top Ten hit for them on Billboard’s charts. It has become one of the most performed songs on Sesame Street.
Here are some of the lyrics:
Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad.
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.
Your life is like a song. Every day that you live, you are writing the words and the music to your song. No one else’s song will be like yours! You are the only one who can write and sing your song. So, how do you go about writing the best song possible? How do you go about living the best life possible?
Let me give you three suggestions:
1. Find your reason for living.
- Why are you here?
- What is your purpose for existing?
- How will the world be a better place because you were here?
Don’t go through life just taking up space. Make your life count for something. You have a unique set of abilities, talents, gifts, interests, and passions that make you marvelously unique. There is not another person just like you on the face of the earth.
What talents and abilities has God given you that you can use to make a difference in the world? What are some of the things that interest you that you can share with other people to make their lives more interesting?
You are here for a reason. Discover your purpose, and then get busy fulfilling that purpose. As you do, you will be composing the most beautiful song that could ever be sung.
2. Make other people’s lives better.
You will not be successful in life unless your life makes someone else’s life better, unless you help others along the way, unless you contribute something to the world that blesses other people.
John Donne (pronounced “Dunn”) was an English poet and preacher who lived in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. In 1624, as he was recovering from a serious illness, he wrote a series of reflections entitled “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions”, from which the following quote is taken.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
The idea that Donne was trying to get across is that no one can go through life completely independent of other people. We are all in this together. We need each other. You need other people in order for your life to be the best it can be, and other people need you. So the only way to be truly successful in life is to contribute something worthwhile to the lives of other people.
Sir Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
When I was a teenager, I discovered a fascinating book entitled Try Giving Yourself Away, by David Dunn, which was originally published in 1953. In this book, Dunn shares some of his adventures and gives some practical suggestions for enjoying the hobby of giving yourself away.
“I recommend giving-away as an exciting and thoroughly satisfying hobby. In fact, if you will give it a good try, I’ll practically guarantee you a happier life starting right away!” (David Dunn)
3. Live life to the fullest.
Life is an adventure, just waiting for you to explore it. Sometimes you have to look for the adventure, but that’s part of the fun!
Too often I hear young people say, “I’m bored”. Are you kidding me?! How in the world can you possibly be bored, when there is so much adventure just waiting for you to discover it?
People get bored for one of two reasons: either because they have no imagination, or because they are just too lazy to use their imagination. Either way, that’s not a good thing! Just for fun, I Googled “things to do when you’re bored”, and got a whole bunch of websites with lists of things to do when you’re bored.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Blink wildly and then close your eyes really tight for an interesting light show.
- Try to not think about penguins.
- Repeat the same word over and over until it loses its meaning.
- Strike up a conversation with a total stranger.
- Hang out with old people. They have great stories and sometimes need the company.
- Try geocaching.
- Go fly a kite.
- Go for a walk. Explore your neighborhood.
- Read a book. (No, seriously! Have you ever actually sat down and read a book just for fun? Try it!)
- Spend some time browsing in the public library.
- Wash your dog. Try washing your cat.
- Learn to peel a banana with your feet.
- Join the summer reading program at your local library.
- Plant a garden. Or some potted plants.
- Pack a fun lunch and go to the park. Play Frisbee.
- Decorate blank t-shirts.
- Set up a Slip ‘N Slide in your back yard. Invite the whole neighborhood!
- Create a masterpiece on your driveway with sidewalk chalk.
- Blow bubbles.
- Gather some old dry bread crusts and feed the birds. Or go to a lake or pond and feed the ducks.
- Research your family tree.
- Lie on the grass and look at cloud shapes.
- Plant a tree.
- Bake cookies. Put them in pretty containers and deliver them to your friends.
- Clean up trash in a local park. Or pick up trash on your block.
- Learn to juggle.
- Start a collection.
- Write a novel.
- Learn a new language (or learn sign language).
- Write a letter to a friend — on paper! (Don’t forget to mail it.)
- Make a list (maybe even a list of things to do when you’re bored!)
Life is full of adventure, just waiting for you to explore it! Don’t be bored. Use your imagination, and FIND the adventure in life.
I learned a lot about living life to the fullest from my daughter Ashley. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was 9 years old. She went through a year-and-a-half of radiation and chemo treatments. Even when she was completely wiped out by her treatments, she was always looking for something fun to do. She didn’t use her cancer as an excuse to just sit around and be bored. She basically told her cancer to take a back seat because it was NOT going to get in the way of her life.
After being cancer-free for about three years, her cancer came back. She was 14 years old and had just started her freshman year at Waxahachie High School. Her French class was planning a trip to Paris, France, the following summer, and she signed up to go.
However, this time around, her cancer was stronger than the first time, and she went downhill pretty fast. The night before she died, we took her shopping — at her insistence. She was too weak to walk, so we pushed her in a wheelchair. In fact, she was SO weak that she could hardly hold her head up. But she wanted to go shopping, because she wanted to buy a new suitcase for her trip to Paris the next summer.
She bought a purple suitcase from Big Lots that night, and then she died the next afternoon. We still have that purple suitcase, and it’s a reminder of how important it is to never give up, to always look for the adventure in life, and to live life to the fullest every single day.
So … how do you go about writing the best song possible? How do you go about living the best life possible?
- Find your reason for living.
- Make other people’s lives better.
- Live life to the fullest every single day.
Stand By Me
As you think about this idea of your life being like a song, of you writing and singing the best song possible with your life, I want to share a video with you that I believe is one of the coolest music videos ever recorded. Listen carefully to the words that are spoken at the beginning of the video, listen to the lyrics of the song, and pay close attention to how the video was made (you’ll see what I’m talking about).
Isn’t that the crazy-coolest thing you’ve ever seen? This guy went all over the WORLD, recording different people singing and playing the same song. Then he put them all together to make a music video of one song. It took all of those people, each contributing their little part, to make this such a magnificent song. The title of the song is “Stand By Me”, and talks about how important it is for us to have people who will stand by us.
No matter who you are,
No matter where you go in life,
No matter how much money you’ve got,
You’re gonna need somebody to stand by you!
When everything in life goes wrong,
I won’t be afraid,
I won’t cry,
I won’t shed a tear,
Just as long as I’ve got someone to stand by me.
You see, not only should you spend your life making a difference in other people’s lives, helping other people write their songs, helping other people live their best life possible. You’re also going to need other people to help you write your best song possible. You’re going to need other people to help you live your best life possible. Look for those people, and let them into your life. We’re all in this together. We need each other.
The very last line of “Windsong” (from the movie “Mighty Joe Young”) says, “However the song, my child, will go on forever.”
The cool thing about writing the best song possible …
The cool thing about living the best life possible …
The cool thing about finding your reason for living, and making other people’s lives better, and living life to the fullest every single day, and letting other people help you write your best song possible … is that your song will go on forever.
Long after you are dead and gone, your song will still be part of the soundtrack of life. Your legacy will live on. The things that you have done to make a difference will continue blessing the lives of others.
No one but you can sing your song. No one but you can live your life. So go out there and sing your heart out. Make a difference in this world by being the best YOU that you can possibly be.
God bless you!
Adapted from a speech I gave at the Waxahachie Independent School District National Junior Honor Society Induction Ceremony on May 19, 2009 at Robbie Howard Eighth Grade Center.
- “Mighty Joe Young (1998 film)”. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Dec 2009, 05:05 UTC. 11 Dec 2009.
- Horner, James and Will Jennings. “Dedication and Windsong”. Mighty Joe Young. CD. Hollywood Records, Inc., Burbank, CA. 1998.
- “Mighty Joe Young Lyrics: Windsong Lyrics”. HotLyrics.net. 11 Dec 2009.
- “Sing (The Carpenters song).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 25 Nov 2009, 09:27 UTC. 11 Dec 2009.
- “Joe Raposo.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Dec 2009, 11:59 UTC. 11 Dec 2009.
- “CARPENTERS lyrics – Sing”. Oldies Lyrics. 12 Dec 2009.
- “John Donne.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 12 Dec 2009, 04:20 UTC. 12 Dec 2009.
- “Quote Details: Sir Winston Churchill: We make a living…”. The Quotations Page. Ed. Michael Moncur. 12 Dec 2009.