Can you remember the first time you ever heard yourself sing? I highly doubt you sounded any good. That’s what happened to me in my teenage years. I woke up one morning with an interest in music. I signed up to be cast in a musical. I was told that I couldn’t sing. I was then cast as one of the supporting actors. I was told that I couldn’t act.

What my educators should have told me–which they didn’t–was that the first time you do anything, you’re not going to be any good at it. It takes practise and patience to master any art, any craft and any pursuit to arrive at a working proficiency. In either case, a fellow student (whose parents had made a large donation to the school ahem ahem) was cast in the lead role.

This brings me to the first symbol associated with Goddess Saraswati. A show cannot exist without an audience. A performer cannot exist without an audience. Our gifts are not meant to be hidden away. They are meant to be shared with the world–no matter how perfect or imperfect we may be.

Remember to always be as proud as the peacock in all that you do.

The Peacock

The male peacock is a beautifully breathtaking animal. In India, they proudly prance around neighbourhoods and in city streets. Their feathers are prized for their beauty and Romans are said to have been obsessed about them. Anyone who has ever seen a peacock in its full-feathered glory cannot help but be mesmerised by one of nature’s most beautiful creations.

That is, until, you hear it speak.

It is a horrendously shrill sound that is nowhere near as ‘beautiful’ as its physical beauty. While we humans may prize the peacock for its feathers more than we do its voice; for me, it is a metaphor for how we actually sound when we first learn to use our voice. We may well sound terrible.

We may hear ourselves and think, “Is that what I sound like?” Apparently, yes. That is exactly what you sound like. And yes, those are exactly the ridiculous things that come out of your mouth from time to time. But just because it isn’t a beautiful sound, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make it. That’s the first lesson.

When we’re starting out, the likelihood of us being ‘good’ is close to nil. Some of us may possess a natural talent, but for many of us, it’s an uphill battle of doubt, fear and sometimes even ridicule. More so for anyone who is learning the art of public speaking. Even when your acting is excellent, critics can and will still tear you apart.

That’s when the peacock’s message shines through once again. No matter how bad or good you are; always be as proud as a peacock. Don’t hide your beauty away just because you sounded terrible. You still have a lot going for you.

Furthermore, in life, there will be many moments where we have to voice things that shouldn’t be voiced or say things that may be better left unsaid. And at other times, we will have to catch ourselves when we have said things we probably shouldn’t have. The peacock’s voice is a reminder that at times we must risk it and sing–even if others around us don’t like it. At other times, it is better to remain silent.

The peacock–as well as the rooster–is one of Lord Murugan‘s animals. In times of war, soldiers would let out war cries that were intended to scare and frighten the enemy that they were fighting against. In addition, we also use our voice to cry out in pain so that someone may attend to us or come to our aid.

The power of the human voice and our ability to sound out our woes and our worries is not an ability to ever be underestimated.

And remember, even if you sound terrible, remain as proud as a peacock!

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