Yesterday, a freshman English class was listening to Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier.” The class is focusing on poetry right now and song lyrics seem to be one of the best ways of presenting poetry to today’s 14-year-old students. Some song lyrics are great poetry. . . but most of them. . .not so much. Of course that is just my opinion.
Free clip art showing an ancient Egyptian jackal/human. You’ll soon learn why this is relevant.
“Hey, I almost spit on that old lady.”
The old lady is me. The speaker: a chubby, ruddy-cheeked lad who appears to be in his mid-twenties. He and his two companions ride down the library elevator with me. None of them hold a book. They don’t seem the avid reader types. The loud one had makes a smart crack about my library basket. A large sturdy basket holds my library books both at home and in the library as I peruse those wonderful shelves in search of what interests me in the moment.
Today, I looked for inspiration in music. I started by creating a playlist on Spotify with uplifting songs. I started looking under some of the Christian artists because “that’s how I roll.” To my surprise, I found this instrumental piece done by Michael W. Smith entitled, “Carol Ann.” It is perfect. I think this is my new theme music.
The last few days have been rather eventful. There has been little time to write. When I did have time, the words just weren’t there. My mind was some where else. Chest pains finally brought my husband to the ER. Two days of tests have found he carries an enlarged heart.
It all seems rather metaphorical not in a distant, vague way but in a way that touches the sinew and muscle of a heart that is larger than it should be. It touches the sinew and muscle of the family in which we are all satellites of each other.
Fortunately, the blockage in this over-sized heart is not so severe that a stint or surgery is necessary. Nonetheless, it remains something that demands attention, a change in lifestyle and greater attention to all matters of the heart.
My assignment: To write about my feelings surrounding responsibility and blame. It’s been much harder than expected. I keep missing the mark. It took a book and the words of another to capture what I could not.
“I think back on my childhood, the word shame serves as an umbrella. It is the sense of being completely insufficient as a person, the nagging feeling that for some reason you’re defective and unworthy. That is how I felt all the time (Manning 51). To read more about Manning: http://brennanmanning.com/
Valentine’s Day comes with a built-in writing prompt. The topic: L-O-V-E. Nat King Cole starts to sing/spell the song in my head. My hazy memory of the lyrics soon brings a halt to the music. Nothing rushes in to take its place. A lone cricket chirps in the silence between my ears.
I wait for inspiration. The first class of a day is Math. No inspiration here. The room is subdued as they review for the quiz on Thursday. The teacher asks a question that is answered by: “Integer Coefficient.” There in the letters on the whiteboard my topic has appeared. Love is like an integer coefficient.
A new week begins. It teases me with promise. I’ll take this over despair any day. Despair was getting old. It’s time for something new.
Under the warmth of a lazy Sunday morning shower, I realized that I haven’t been taking good care of myself and why that has been a mistake. Inspiration often comes from unexpected places: the aftermath of a lover’s quarrel, the words of a stranger, a beautiful sunset, the flight of an unusual bird outside the window.
Four. It is the number of songs I hear on the radio on my drive between home and work. A four-tune commute is a good commute. I need this mornings music to ease me into the day, to carry me from sleep to being fully alert. At night my spirit roams a world in which anything is possible: aliens and apocalypses to pet zebras and the power of zeros.
Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true. –Adyashanti
This last week found me going several rounds with the truth. In the boxing ring with the lights on us sweat pouring out of every pore we fought it out. In the end battered and bloody, I lay on the floor. In the distance, numbers float past my head. I am down for the count. I have always hating boxing, its savagery, its brutality, its potential to inflict a permanent harm. And yet, here I am in the ring.
I lay there as the arena empties until I am left all alone. The last one to leave turns out the lights. My facade of pretense is gone. I have forgotten how to get up and try again because the world as I knew it is gone. Nothing remains the same. I remember the time before the fight and I want it back, the innocence, the ignorance. Knowledge may be power but this power is too much. It is attacking me from the inside. I can’t contain it and it wants out.
As I lay in the dark, on the soiled mat, surrounded by ropes to keep us in but that can’t keep anything out, I close my eyes and give in. This resignation, this relinquishing the hold I know longer have comes easily. The struggle to maintain my grasp has beaten me. It is time to let go. What I knew, what I believed has been eradicated. I watch figments of my imagination, the things that I clung to, the falsehoods that I had mistaken for the truth, float away.
The death of the imaginary has been a brutal one. Quietly in the dark, the truth slowly steps in to take its place. I hear its footsteps and take comfort in them.
I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.