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Off Key

I overheard a conversation between my two nine-year-old granddaughters.

“What does it mean to sing off key?” One of them asked.

“Well, it’s like when you’re dancing and your leg bends the wrong way.”

Out of the mouths of babes. I thought about that for a long time. In fact, I can’t get it off my mind. There are so many ways to be off key!

Take politics. I watched the Democratic Debate and every candidate was shouting a different tune at the same time. I wanted to cover my ears! Instead I flipped the TV on MUTE. It was comical to watch their arms flailing in different directions. It was crazy! I turned the channel where a woman was speaking off key. She used the word wrong wrong.

“Don’t you hate it when people say WRON-GH with an emphasis on the G?” I asked my husband.

“Not really.” He’s much more laid-back but I persisted.

“What about when people say SON-GH instead of song?”


“So it doesn’t sound strange when someone says, You’re SIN-GHing the WRON-GH SON-GH?”

He gave me a dismissive shrug.

“I’m just SAYIN-GH.” I huffed.

He looked perplexed.

“Never mind. I was just MUTTERIN-GHLONGING-GH to be validated for having perfect pitch.”

I don’t really have perfect pitch, but that nine-year-old wisdom really sharpened my ears. And my eyes. Today I finished an art piece that took over a month to paint. The colors finally came together in a way that wasn’t pitchy.

It seems that everything around me needs tuning. My closet needs straightening and my pantry needs to be organized. Everything chaotic seems to assault my senses.

Suddenly it hits me. I’m playing this all wron-gh! I’m bendin-gh like a broken ballerina. This melody I’m sin-ghing is off key. Maybe true harmony is more like the life of a nine-year-old, skipping, playing and singing. And dancing! Heaven knows my legs bend the wrong way when I dance and my rhythm is a hot mess, but what the hay?

Wait. I’m doing it again, aren’t I? I’m off key. The world needs grace, right? And beautiful in-tune music, language and art. And order.

What does it mean to be off key? It means your life is off balance. Perfect pitch is excellence mingled with imperfection. Tell me if I'm WRON-GH.