I was sitting at our school's Talent Show yesterday morning being entertained by students singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. As I was watching my mind was wandering - why is it that most 'Talent Show's' consist of Performing Arts? Rarely do people show up to show off mad dribbling skills, or crazy speed reading, or even the ability to computer large numbers quickly. Why is it that as a community we typically value extreme gifts or talents in 'academics' as non-talents? I would assume that people who can compute large numbers not only have a knack for it, but worked at it just as a someone who is innately good at dancing - yet one is 'talented'?!
As I continued this thought I was lead to yet another question - "What is it about the performing arts and even sports that bring an audience?" So, past this idea that some things are considered a 'talent' to show off and other not - it made me wonder if the audience had something to do with it. Perhaps we do consider people who can speed read and compute large numbers as 'talented' - but we aren't going to sell out the super dome to watch them. Why is this?!
The simple answer is that it isn't entertaining to a large number of people. Sure there are conferences for the mathematicians and scientists - but to the average person this is not entertaining. Which then lead me to think, "Why are these not entertaining to the masses? I use math everyday - it is an essential part of my day."
This took me a little longer to come up with semi-answer. I don't find math overly exciting, but I do use it - I see its' value and I am thankful that some people love it and are talented at it - I am not that person. However, I am not good at baseball, I don't use it everyday -- yet I will go to games and set my DVR to watch a game. The simple answer again - I find it entertaining.
So then on to "What is there about performing arts and sports that people find entertaining?" Why, as a culture, do we go pay money to sit in a seat and watch someone do something? Why do we find concerts and sporting events entertaining?
I honestly think the answer is in our humanity. The performing arts speak to something inside our soul - our hearts. There is something about live performances of music, comedy, dancing, and acting that captures our attention - that pulls us together as humans. I think it reminds us of each other, of connecting, of something simple and essential. Every tribe or group of people that have ever inhabited this earth have had some kind of spiritual connection with music and movement - and even though so many of us don't practice this anymore on a traditional level, we know it belongs to us and in us. The same goes for sporting events, though on a different scale. You won't find hecklers at the Opera -- but you'll find real life in a sporting arena. People talk, interact, yell, shout, and celebrate together. There is something special about everyone cheering on their home team - about being there for the wins and the losses. People connect with their own humanity and thus feel engaged and entertained.
So, as I sat yesterday grinning as a sibling pair play handbells to Queen's 'We are the Champions" - I realized that they may not fully understand their role in what they are doing - but they are connecting with their school, with their community in a way that reminds us all of our humanity. They remind us to laugh, to cry, to keep on moving. Arts have a funny way of sneaking into everyone's life and reminding them to be humble, to be connected, to enjoy the ebs and flow of life.