On the way to the writing session this morning, I listened to a double mix CD I made recently. It’s a compilation of songs that had deep emotional resonance for me throughout the years. Hearing them play one after the other was like listening to the soundtrack of my life, while zigzagging up the Thruway soaked in rain and autumn colors.
Certain lyrics evoked flashes of what once was – the twelve-year-old kid arranging pillows and ashtrays on the couch, a makeshift drum kit, banging drumsticks along to Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” repeatedly before her mom got home from work. The twenty-something finding her way surfaced from a line from Michelle Shocked’s “Memories of East Texas” about those left behind not being able to make a place for a girl who’d seen the ocean. And a song from my 30s by Incubus that I listened to on my endless commutes into the city in the 1990s where the song’s character calls out a warning to never let life pass her by.
What’s striking is the first CD is filled with images of chains and silencing and what it feels like to be stuffed in a pre-defined box so others can feel safe and orderly, so you make sense to them. Everything that was stifled while staying in those sterile boxes just burned. I’m thanksful the ember wasn’t extinguished.
That’s due to the theme of the second CD, all about the searching, the journey, the knowledge that despite how everyone I knew lived their lives, there just might be another way. I read something recently that is the full-grown tree that pulls itself from the seed, birthing itself. Somewhere I was encouraging and nurturing those tender shoots into existence.
Years ago when I moved into my home, I set up a music studio in the basement. As I daydreamed my corporate hours away during the workweek, I would imagine myself lying on my back on the floor of that little studio, late at night, in the dark except for a sole candle and the LED lights on the recording equipment. I would envision myself holding a microphone to my mouth, creating reel after feel of spoken word prose – eloquent, prolific, effortless. Endless stories and images captured on tape. But when I did go downstairs, I couldn’t even flip that machine on. And I never knew why. Something always stopped me from actually trying.
But it occurred to me today that what I really needed at that time was the dream itself. I needed the hope that someday I’d find a way to rip the self-affixed duct tape off my own mouth.
So when did everything change? When I picked up a pen and began writing the truth.