I read something today that shook me. Deep. Way down deep, in a big WTF sort of way... it had to do with the local school wanting to arm security guards. And then I hopscotched to an article about the psychological effect of gun violence, drills, and paranoia on young children.
I don't think I have to describe the feeling inside. I think we all feel that horror; it's a mess. The uncertainty. The rage, the confusion, the sadness.
But, here's what I noticed, as I read through the inter-webs: my father's generation grew up this way, during the Cold War. They grew up (our Baby Booming parents) hiding under their desks, wondering whether bombs would fall from the sky. It was "war time." There was the big button. And then we were into the Cold War.
I had a chat with my Dad about his childhood. And it was so different... this was a war machine, not unpredictable civilians shooting each other and kids in schools and movie theaters. So much is different, but still, there were parallels. Duck and Cover, they called it. They hid under their desks when the sirens went off. They never knew when an air raid might materialize. This generation had its share of anxiety growing up, for sure.
I read here about the fear and anxiety over current politics and threats to our safety, and how they echo the fears of the Cold War era. We are re-living those fearful childhoods, through our baby boomers. It's palpable. The tension, the air thick with the memory of it, of hiding. Are we safe, are we safe?
And on the other hand, we have the current kids. The group my son will be joining in the fall. These kids are in the beginning stages of learning "active shooter drills." The Boomers had fall-out shelters, and now we are talking about "safe rooms." The threat is very different. But the fear is real, for both. I shudder to imagine my son growing up in such fear-based, dark world. And anxiety begins to tug at me, too. But then, I stop. I breathe. I ground myself. And I remember...
My generation is a special one. And I'm definitely talking about my own privileged youth: my friends, my school experience. Of course, not everyone had a positive experience, for personal reasons. But I'm talking about the vibe of the nation. The Reagan Years. We grew up in the age of bliss, in many ways
I watched the first choreographed music video, ever, on MTV (back when they just played music videos) along with many of my Gen X counterparts who were lucky enough to have cable. (You just heard Video Killed the Radio Star in your head just now, didn't you?) Oh - ah- oh...
I grew up with Dolly Pops and He-Man cartoons and Voltron and Smurfs. US in the 80s... in the middle class neighborhoods... there were TVs everywhere. Abundance. Too much, I think. We had it good. New Wave vibes and Boy George and John Hughes films. Lisa Lisa. Janet. Blondie. Bon Jovi. The Rubick's Cube. Watchu talkin' 'bout Willis? Different Strokes. Beepers and pagers. Madonna. Atari... Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger. The arcade. Neon shirts. Webster. Asymmetrical skirts. Princess Di. Skorts. Tina Turner. Scrunchies. Keds. Miami Vice. Knight Rider. Human League. Wham! Bowie. <3 The Go-Gos. Mr. T. FAME! Flashdance. Shoulder pads. PRINCE. Garbage Pail Kids. Whitney Houston. Mr. Wizard's World. Mall bangs. Mr. Rogers. Peak Michael Jackson. We Are the World. Hands Across America. Farm Aid. U2, The Police, Sting. Debbie Gibson. Selena. BRUUUUCE. Weird Al. COMING TO AMERICA. Roller rinks. New Kids and Tiffany... we crossed into the nineties and the Seattle grunge exploded! Kurt Cobain and the Nevermind album, oh my God! Chris Cornell. <3 We met John Mayer. Dial-up internet entered the home.
I could reminisce for hours. There was pretention, to be sure, but I remember the freedom, the bliss, the culture, the abstract art, the vibe... like it were yesterday. I think a lot of us do. TURBO AND OZONE! Sorry, that just slipped out. So, we sort of packed it up inside, and carried it along with us. Many of my counterparts still quote their favorite childhood shows and nostalgia. it was so much a part of us, and it was the beginning of an addiction to technology and instant satisfaction, as well.
For a lot of us, our parents worked outside the home. Latch-key kids. Oh, yes... who else had keys around their necks and walked home from school to empty houses? And usually, that was perfectly safe. Not a care. Our biggest threat was the potential weirdo in a van with candy. We had more TV time and we were a spoiled bunch... What we didn't grow up with...was a looming fear of danger and imminent death. We thought we'd live forever, we were invincible. Our battlefield was Love. <3
And for so many of us, it still is. We are Hippie 2.0, streamlined for greater efficiency. Hyper-Connected. Love x Love X Infinity. Nothing is impossible. Stubborn as all get-out. We will survive. Win. Achieve our dreams. Because better days are possible. We've seen them. Great things happen and dreams come true. And good guys win.
i mean, we wanted to solve our problems with dance-offs...
My point here... is that our kids have an amazing gift, to help them navigate through their childhoods.
They have us. The 80s kids. The Gen Xers. The hope-and-dreamers. The big Lovers. The idealists. We were in a magical sort of bubble, as far as violence went. Sure, skirmishes existed, but not in our backyards. Not at home, not in America. We didn't know about any of that, we were safe. We were eating Fun Dip and Razzles and learning about Aids and safe sex. We were saying no to drugs (well, some of us said yes. No, not me. I was a drama queen, but straight as an arrow.) We learned about global warming for the first time. We were learning joy and empathy, indulgence and moderation, not fear and paranoia.
Granted we still had socio-economic division and racial conflict and all the rest. We had the good ol' haves and have-nots. But we weren't living in a constant fear of destruction. As our parents did, and as our kids are. We're in that blessed middle. It's a sacred space, because we've known innocence. We know hope. We know Light and goodness and abundance and harmony. Believers.
We saw the end of the Cold War. We saw the Berlin Wall opened and then destroyed, joining the east and west. We saw resolution. Handshakes. We saw eruptions of joy, celebration, and community. Acceptance. Understanding between diverse groups. We've seen moments of peace and wonder. We've also seen riots and disruptions and worked to resolve them. And with so many social injustices, there is always more work to do. But we're doing it. Tables are turning, grounds are shaking, and ways are changing. Step by step. We've been taking down walls since the eighties.
Why are we unique? Because we are in the middle. And not in a holier-than-thou-super-special-snowflake way.... but, meaning that we are the balance. We can raise children with tools to dream and believe and hope, and to do the work. To imagine. To create. To manage anxiety and emotional eruptions. We can tell them that human beings can love each other, work together, trust each other, and succeed, together. We can instill them with beliefs that are empowering, because we've been there. We've seen bright times, and we know, they'll come again. We can infuse them with Love, in a time of fear. With our feet on steady ground, filled up with hope and that glimmer of Light and peace-time goodness... we can hold space for our parents and keep them grounded. We can comfort our children and guide them through. And we can continue to dream, hope, and imagine a better and safer world. We've seen glimpses of it. We're the ones. We're those people. We're that generation that guides the ship. That lifts and inspires and motivates and makes.
Change happens. Reform happens. Tragedies happen, but we rise from the ashes and demand change. We rip down walls that separate us, we celebrate each other, we Love.
We Love. And we'll keep on...
I am changing. This is me embracing joy. Saying YES.
It would feel natural to say that I'm "improving," but really what's happening is that I am stripping away layers of nonsense. Incinerating parts of me that were never true. Unlearning things that I took on to get by when things were different.
I am ... more me.
I wrote a novel once. And I didn't feel super-driven to write another, at least not right away. What I've been doing, is working on me. I've spent a year, four seasons, diving into my fears and phobias. Traveling. Observing. Feeling. Writing. Healing. I've discovered in this year of me, that I am a singer/songwriter. This is such a huge part of who I am, and it vanished... once I entered academia and prepared for "a real job." A common tale for creatives.
Side-note: higher ed can be great and I have no regrets. It got me to now, which is great. But it's not everything. If you feel a calling, answer it. Honor it. Hone it. You may wake up one day and wonder why you spent all that time and money for paper and memorized jargon. This is common. On the flip-side, pursuing higher education is a saving grace for some people, it's the perfect recipe to provide growth, independence, freedom, and validation of Self. Follow YOUR path.
I have a new new trunk full of originals, they pour out of me now. I'm addicted to it again. But there was that lingering monster... stage fright.
I am baby-stepping it. I sang an original for my mother, to the delight of positive feedback. But that's my MOTHER. Then, I had a coaching appointment this morning and I schlepped my guitar across the parking lot, feeling quite strange the whole way. And I played/sang my newest for her: it's an ode to the dreamers who are also parents, and it's got 💯 of my heart and soul in it. My coach nearly wept as I finished it, and something happened inside... listen... it's not about me and my nerves. Although my fingers quivered and my feet shook uncontrollably and my voice cracked a few times and I felt my neck starting to gather sweat... my heart also cracked wide open. Wow. What magic was this? Yes magic.
It's about sharing what I've been given.
Indeed. It's about purpose. Again, the world seems newer. Brighter. Beautiful.
Hoping to start recording these little nuggets of deep feels and stories and moments for you. A two week travel/writing adventure starts on Thursday and I should be close to a finished first draft of Wild Horses and Mistakes. I'm so freakin' excited about this. Like, feet-shaking-knee-knocking-excited.
That must be good...
More soon... xoxo
With so much love,
Magical, mystical, music.
"I knew when I was 13 what I wanted to do - I wanted to be a musician." - John Mayer
And so he has been.
I took the night off from overthinking, writing, practicing, Mom'ing, planning, exercising, pain-treating, and everything else...and I let music have its way with me tonight. Not sorry. It was good for me. Even the Belgian White felt medicinal.
It was a blessing, a homecoming...the BFF and I went to Jones Beach to see JM many moons ago, and I say homecoming, because, well listen to this coolness:
Way back when, in another lifetime, we went to this place, under the stars, to see the Counting Crows, Maroon 5, and this John Mayer guy. I was there for Adam Levine, nothing else. Or so I thought. That first time I saw him, John Mayer, I was surprised. I hadn't been a fan of the "run through the halls of my school" stuff. Your body is a what? Ew. I appreciate it now, and know every word, but back then? College days? Competing with DMB, Alicia, J-Lo, Janet, Gwen, Staind, Usher, Maroon 5, and ay dios mio, Enrique.... well, maybe I liked one song on the album: My Stupid Mouth. Yeah, I got that. It resonated. I had no filter. And Neon...great picking, wow. I thought we could hang, maybe, but the music? Eh. Coffeehouse. Chin pubes. College kids, fake IDs. Whatevs. (That was THEN John, I adore you now.)
Anyway, that night, back then, that first night I saw him live, he wasn't a frat kid at a coffeehouse. He brought out an electric guitar. The lights went down, the spot followed him to center-stage, and he started channeling Jimi Hendrix. This was way before the Trio. He just stood there and left it all the floor. He bled. Something magical happened. I felt it. And it spilled out of him, onto the floor, through the fog, across the crowd and seeped into me. I was hooked. This...this wailing, this pain-filled melancholic magic, this kind of connecting...moved me. So much more than the acoustic rhythmic strumming. I remember then, after seeing him, coming right back home, the way I did tonight, and I gushed into my MySpace blog for a good hour about that solo and how it "took me to outer space."
2003. August 25, 2003. Two days shy of 14 years ago. How much has gone down, how much we've seen and witnessed, since those simple days. How much Life has crept by?
And now. What magic is this, in these tones, these lyrics, these sounds, this... emoting... connecting... that brings it all right back. To then. What a gift that is, to create time-travel. To create doorways in the mind to such bliss, such simplicity, such joy. Remembering.
And to create more, here and now. Oh...art.
It's a magic I can't explain. If I was in the blissed-out state the guy a few seats down from me was in, I'd say... it's some epic, mind-blowing, cosmic shit. Yeah, man. Something like that. All those things.
Music. What is it about music that can do this for us?
And it's not all music I connect to in this way, it's what I call the authentic stuff. Connected stuff. It has to feel a bit organic, to me. And that's what it is, right there. It's real. Songwriting... taking in the world, the highs the lows, the waves of bliss and sorrow, the try-it-agains, and the fucked-it-ups, the climbing so high and the crashing so low. The movement, the pain, the memory, the fear, the longing. Imagining. Obsessing. Dreaming. The emotion. And it's this, this capture of raw, of real, of...Life. This is what connects us all. Art. To have an emotional experience, to share it, and to have us feel it, too. Connection. Heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul. This is what the artist, the creator, does.
And it's true for any art. They just take us there. Where we want and need to go. To enter into their world, to be there, to feel, to release, to let go, to heal. To hope, to dream, to imagine, to smile. To pause, to breathe. To appreciate. To wonder. To celebrate.
Musicians, while fulfilling their own need for release and connecting with us... also hold space. They hold for a us a sacred space in time to connect in a world full of distraction. Harmony in a world of disharmony. They give us moments, really, precious moments of unified and focused energy: a whole crowd feeling the same things at the same time. Which is why sensitive folks, well...me, at least... love these events so much. They light us up: we breathe in joy, awe, bliss, melancholy. But together, as a whole, a living organism, an expanding and contracting universe of meaning and and communication, all its own.
I feel blessed to have to gone. Thanks John Mayer. 14 years. Only getting better. We've got creases and lines and joint issues and other things, gen-xers, but, deep down, we're all still 'those kids.' And you took us there. Again. And I am moved. Again.
This is...yes...serious ass-kissing, but also an homage to music; being the glue that binds us. And how lucky you are, how lucky anyone can be: to be up there, living it, and have such influence. What a gift. What a dream, what an inspiration.
Thanks for a great night out.
PS...John Mayer totally admitted to being a guy who likes a good cry. Relevant because I just blogged about that in Big Boys Don't Cry...
Hello friends. It's been a doozy of a week or two. Let's just say that some recent revelations, crumbling of illusions...still... have led me to explore some old things. The past.
Everywhere we turn we read something that tells us that the past is in the past. "Let it go...let it go..." But I really do think that in order to have a clear picture of where we're going, that we must look at and know where we've been. And not to forget...but to remember.
I finally went through an old box that's been lurking around. Songs. Lyrics, chords, notes, poems...from the nineties. A lifetime ago, and yet...reading through these things, these snippets, these snapshots in time reminding me who I was, what I was feeling, what I wanted...was like reuniting with an old friend. I laughed, I cried a little, I sighed, I smiled. Music. I lived and breathed words and music. I came across notebooks that should've been filled with notes that pertained to the courses I was taking...but instead? Songs. Words, words, feelings, more words.
This in particular stuck out:
"June 10, 2000:
Too often our surroundings can suffocate us. We can become overwhelmed and feel backed into a corner. Our senses get muddled and at times it seems we're screaming with urgent intensity and yet no one is listening. Sometimes all we need is to wake up, in every way a person can awaken, and look at the world with a different perspective. Every day can be a new beginning. I know that now.
Looking back, browsing through the experiences I've had living in the microcosm I call 'my world,' it took a while to get here. Just like any other, my life was filled with ups and downs, high hopes and disappointments, triumphs and failures. What I've realized, is that every experience, every person we meet and every situation we encounter, help us to grow.
Bad things happen, but we can learn from them. The good things we can keep with us in our memories, in our hearts; they can remain there to keep us warm. In order to appreciate the positive, we must endure the negative."
I'm not sure what prompted these words...the perspective...although I'm sure if I ask around I'll find out something. Reading them took my breath away. I thought such a perspective, those words, were new and shiny for me. But they weren't. I always say that we are writing...our whole lives. And literally, right here, in my own handwriting...I see the impetus for the writing that became the novel I wrote and the quotes and inspirational words that I share. The vision, the seed, was planted so many years ago. Hidden, growing, in silence. With me...completely unaware of them. And maybe it's more than that.
Big picture...I feel as though I've just rekindled a relationship with my soul. With the child inside. And it's...awe inspiring. Inexplicable. It's...connection, in the best possible way.
What happens to us?
So many of us, as children, and into adolescence...have such vivid dreams. I was knee deep in these old songs I wrote, and they were just dripping with passion. Longing. Ideas of love. Mystery and magic. Heartbreak, emptiness, loneliness, feeling lost. And at the same time, envisioning a bright future, healing the world, breaking down stereotypes. So idealistic, so full of hope. All I wanted to do was write music, sing, and inspire people. Connect with people, connect people to each other. Let them know that if only for 3 and a half minutes...that I felt it too...that they weren't alone.
So, once again, looking back...I see that somewhere, some time...I decided that my dreams weren't enough. They wouldn't cut it. I got "real." A passion became a hobby which became a once in a while thing...which eventually faded into obscurity. Somewhere along the line, I let the external control my wishes. I stopped believing, in all of it. Until the desire to write finally rose back up. And I am still beyond grateful for that day...March 28, 2015. Renaissance began. The ME inside, woke up.
A lot of this awakening that we read about...this waking up, evolving, remembering "who we are..." doesn't always have to mean something profound and epic. Sometimes, I think that a spiritual awakening is an obstacle course, bursting with opportunities for insight and life lessons...learning compassion and imperfection... showing us a whole new perspective and vision of our lives and what they could be... to lead us right back to where we started...ourselves. Indeed, it starts within. Just think of all the systems that exist...within us. Each of us. From neutrinos to bacteria to organs to our bodies and minds and souls...there are indeed universes within each of us. And yes, we are in relationship with ourselves. From our cells to our speech. And then, to make it more fun and exciting, we are also in constant relationship with everything and everyone else. Perhaps that's why we see "Self-love" everywhere. There's so much to balance and work on within each one of us, and each thought and word and action...has impact.
Wow...so what does that mean? I don't know. I think it means that we owe it to the greater good of our species and planet, at least, to understand and know ourselves enough to be responsible participants in the journey of life.
We're all the same, at the core of things...and yet there is only one ME. There is only one YOU. Remembering who I am has more to do with the little girl who lost her way, years ago, then with ascending to mysterious dimensions of spirituality and bending space-time. And that's another topic, entirely.
It's fascinating to see how I've come full circle. Let's find ourselves, the ones who've been hidden, waiting, with so much to say, having been silenced for so long, before the influence and hardships of life got inside...and changed us. Let's find our Selves...from this life. Right here, right now. And let's get our hands dirty with learning and experiencing, with "ups and downs, high hopes and disappointments, triumphs and failures." Let's live...while we're here. Right? Isn't that the point? And to somehow find the balance in all of it, and find joy knowing that we are awake, alive, and participating in the writing of our own stories.
Whatever this Life is...it's happening. And to make the most of it, is to know...who we are. What we want. What fills us with passion. And maybe some things ought to stay in the past. Some things need another look, and they're let go. And maybe some things need to be reintegrated and given the attention that they deserve. And something else that fascinates me...one glance at these old words, from...1997, most seem to be...and the melody instantly came back. I sang them in my head as I read. How powerful is that? Not a thought in nearly 20 years, and then...wow. Instant recognition and recall. So, what does all this mean? I'm not quite sure...but I will say that I've started writing music again.
Hello, heart. I see you. Let's talk. I'm listening. <3