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A heart cracked open

“It’s not about money. It is about compassion,” said a local city council member at a meeting earlier this week. He spoke with such poise and kindness, I  deeply felt the broader truth behind his statement on a local measure.

Over and over since, I’ve come back to his words: It is about compassion. 

Each time I roll them over on my lips and in my heart, I understand better how much everything is about compassion.

Seeing how little is presented around me these days, I’m trying to find ways to show it more in my own life. I feel it often, to be sure, but quiet, held-in compassion does little for someone who yearns to be overtly recognized as human.

This morning, I heard something so overflowing with powerful compassion that I began sobbing. How rare it is to hear something so raw so boldly presented! How wondrous to hear a world in a shaking voice and to understand how compassion connects and strengthens us!

If you’d like your heart to be cracked right open and hear the goodness in compassion (and pain, and solidarity) expressed, please go here. Scroll to 52:40 in “Orange is the New Anti-Black” and listen to the minute of preface explaining why Jeremy Scahill included Kimya Dawson’s “At the Seams” in today’s podcast.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen

Categories: Music, Reflections Tags: ,

Music, the opposite of noise

I’ve recently learned the difference between noise and music.

“Noise” is something I experience almost every waking moment of every day. While some of it is auditory, my other senses are constantly bombarded as well: by motion and color, by fragrances sweet or repugnant, by the shuffle of objects and children around me.

Once upon a time, my ancestors knew primarily those noises native to their environments and clans. Their senses got glorious breaks I can barely even fathom today, in a world where I am reachable at all hours by text message, phone call, email, and snail mail … before I’ve even reached my office, with its own messaging, phone, email, and snail mail beacons.

I know noise intimately these days, but I only recently became acquainted with its opposite: music.

 

The day I bought a copy of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, I also bought a book about Aaron Burr. I read a few pages at home. I was taken aback by the book’s aggressive tone, and so set it aside in favor of reading Alexander Hamilton.

"Oh, Deefy. You take such silly pictures." -- my husband, today

Read more…

Categories: Books, history, Music Tags: , , , ,

what song tomorrow

Prescribing Joy

I’ve listened to the Hamilton soundtrack almost non-stop for the last month and a half.

As each workday has neared its end, I’ve noticed the time and found myself excited about my long commute. Instead of thinking a string of expletives about my drive, I’ve thought, “It’s almost Hamilton time!”

The recording translated a cost to a benefit.

It invigorated me.

image

I met my new doctor early last month.

A couple of weeks after we met, he provided patient instructions incuding the following: “make sure you take time for yourself every day – personal time – to relax/do your favorite activity – even if only for a short period.”

I rejoiced his compassionate instruction, but I was also perplexed: What do I even enjoy anymore?

It had been so long since the question even seemed relevant.

It took me a couple of weeks to realize my heart already recognized the answer my head did not: I enjoy the hell out of Hamilton.

I didn’t bother long with wondering why. In light of my doctor’s prescription, the joy was far more important than its rationale.

For months, I’ve wanted to host another guest post series, but I couldn’t find a topic. That, I found on the freeway about a week ago. Read more…

Musical breadcrumbs

a relationship
with an older man
in college brought me
much heartbreak, but also
bruce springsteen

last week,
my husband
saw bruce perform
while my college self sulked
and my parent self thought,
“hey, this really ain’t
half bad”

a few days ago,
my husband pulled
a long, flat envelope
from our mailbox; inside
the envelope was a cd:
springsteen’s
nebraska
Read more…

tiny-armed hugs

tonight
i could have
gone to a
concert

bruce
springsteen!
the boss!
aaaaah!

(baby,
i was born
to run!)

my college self
wept that her
parent self
took a
pass

here’s the thing:
with two small kids,
some weekdays, the only
moments i truly get
to myself are
30 minutes
at lunch

every
other
moment
is often filled: Read more…

My heart’s / right there

This old

This old

The book I’m reading sends me back in time. One moment, I’m in its pages; the next, I’m seventeen years old and racing down Eugene’s 18th Street on my boyfriend’s bicycle, headed for another Certified Nursing Assistant shift at a nursing home long term care facility.

I loved working there. I loved the moments in between tending to people’s physical needs where I got to hear who they were. I listened to what they could tell of their stories and imagined a million other stories between each of those.

My favorite lady, E, could not speak. She’d ask me questions by pointing at letters printed on a laminated piece of paper and listen raptly as I told her about my family, boyfriend, and dreams. She was sad for me whenever I seemed down, and told me with concern etched on her face to please take care of myself.

Another lady once expressed sadness about how seldom people visited her. I threw my arms around her to show my sympathy, only to realize I hadn’t applied deodorant that morning. “Oh, my!” she said, laughing as she pulled away. “I may be sad, but my nose still works just fine!” Read more…

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