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A tribute to you

Caleb Cobbin | Sunday, October 6, 2013

I have been singing for as long as I can remember. And oftentimes, my grandmother would make me play the piano and sing whenever or wherever an opportunity presented itself. I, being an extremely shy child, would hate it. I would cry, complain or hide, but eventually I sang whether I liked it or not. Now a senior at Notre Dame, the seemingly endless years of torture shed light on my grandma’s reasoning. She knew this is what I loved, and she knew this would make me happy.
A friend told me a story of her singing “How Can I Keep from Singing” to herself as she was walking to work one afternoon. When she encountered people she immediately stopped and thought to herself, “Wait, I’m missing the point of the song.” She salvaged her voice and her pride and continued singing despite the furtive glances and quizzical stares from others. I laughed at her story. I know all too well the feeling of wanting to sing, smile, dance or cry, yet stifling that true honesty in order to belong in a world of  “normalcy.” Here at Notre Dame, I have become truly cognizant of the importance of honesty of emotion and how that very thing we hide from others usually has the great power to bond us together.
For me I have engaged in this expression of honesty mostly through music. Walter Savage Landor once wrote, “Music is God’s gift to man, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to heaven.” This is one of the ways I lament, have fun, reflect and even simply pass the time. Music is the principal way I encounter completeness, whether it be dorm Mass on Sunday evenings, in the loft with the Folk Choir, on South Quad on the way to class or during the Alma Mater after victorious football games (too soon?). Music is how I grew during my Notre Dame career, and my hope is that all students find this zeal in something they love.
So what is the purpose of this article? It is not some controversial topic or highly debated issue but it is extremely important. Poet E. E. Cummings once said, “It takes courage to become who you really are,” and isn’t there no better time than here and now to start that process? You must force yourself during your college academic – and social – career to make a point of branching out and allowing yourself continued self-discovery via the cultivation of your passions. Flexing your independence is not an activity reserved for breaking away from your parents. Be honest with yourself and allow yourself to do what you love. Don’t stay in that major or class you hate. Don’t do something for the mere purpose of doing it. Live a life of passion, allow yourself time to do the things you love and love the people you are with. Make the most of your Notre Dame experience, but more importantly, make the most of yourself.
Caleb Cobbin is a senior. He can be reached at
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.