I went to a concert this week. A great concert. An almost-sold-out arena concert with thousands of people who knew every word to every song and weren't afraid to show it. And I enjoyed it thoroughly.
It wasn't until the last song that I got up and sang along with everyone, and it wasn't until that moment that I realized how much I'd missed out on.
I'd sat in my seat, foot-tapping and clapping along. Feeling slightly annoyed with the two women next to me who were invading my personal space. Trying not to get elbowed in the head because they were standing and I was sitting and there wasn't enough space between us.
I knew all the words, and there was a part of me that wanted to get up and sing and cheer and participate in the concert. But I didn't.
To be fair, the people behind us weren't standing up and I didn't want to get in their way. Also, I have to wear ear plugs at concerts now due to an obscenely loud show I went to that did a bit of damage a few years ago. And although I can hear the show just fine, the ear plugs muffle the noise of the crowd and take me out of the moment. I feel a little bit removed from my surroundings and too much inside my own head.
I could have still sang. And I could have got up for the songs when just about everyone was on their feet. And I would have loved the concert so much more, if only I'd participated.
I realized that this is true for all of life. I can be present. I can enjoy and appreciate what's going on around me, but until I invest myself, until I participate in whatever is happening, my experience and enjoyment will only ever be muted.
So next time?
Next time I'll sing.