The Road the Day the Ground the Clouds

At last, my #songaweek2022 group used a photo for a prompt instead of a word or phrase. This felt like a game-changer to me in terms of connecting with a prompt for inspiration. I think the photo was of the Great Wall of China, but I thought of a road, then of the song from The Hobbit that starts, “the road goes ever on and on. . . ” and I went from there.

I felt like deliberately slowing down in the writing and playing of this song, and so I did.

If you listen closely and/or with headphones you might be able to hear the crickets singing along outside the open window.

The road goes ever on
And over it a song
That if you hear will draw you near
to where you never know where you might go

The day lies before you
And with it much to do
But there’s a song that draws you on
To where you always know you’re going home

The ground carries your load
The clouds catch evening’s glow
They’re changing you, and changed by you
Till everything will never be the same

The Way of Wonder

Life continues to be a bit crazy around here as we moved our oldest to college last week and two of us go back to school here at home (middle school lunch lady and high school sophomore). I mean not here at *home* but in our hometown. I mean not actually our town but the next one over, which is only a few blocks away. But I digress.

All that to say I’m still not back to finishing a song every week. This one was started last week and wrapped up and roughly recorded this week. Not one of my favorites but it’s just good to write again!

Here on the water in the middle of the land
You can hear the wind, it’s whispering through the wings of birds above you
And here in the forest surrounded by the trees
You can feel the pulse of all the being things around you
Ooooh. . . . and that’s called home

Deep in the hollows of your heavy heart
There is still a song reverberating in this moment
Lapsing synapses at the back of your brain
Keep trying all the ways they know to tell the story how it goes
Ooooh . . . . and that’s called life

And you
You will be well
You will find wisdom in the way of wonder

Hopeful Face of the Human Kind

Through my childhood and teenage years, my family moved around a lot. While our home address changed often, our favorite vacation place was the ocean, and we went there many times, up and down the Atlantic seaboard. One year when my brother and I were teenagers, my dad wrote a poem inspired by watching us run ahead of him, away from him, along the beach, where our smaller selves used to cling to his hand and struggle to keep up.

Now I’m the parent, and this is the last summer before my oldest moves out of my house and into a college dorm room (two weeks from today!). It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, and in one of the more angsty moments recently, she said to me, “my life is falling apart!” Which is a hard truth about growing up – the life you know is shrinking, fading, becoming the life you knew – to make way for the bigger life you are stepping into.

This is a song for Luthien, with footage from a video Nathan took of our kids enjoying the Ocean City, New Jersey surf on our vacation this summer. To quote the boardwalk souvenir shop we browsed later that day, “happiness comes in waves!”

You got a lot of something, I hope you take it with you
But bring it on back here sometimes, I’m gonna miss you child
Life as you know it’s falling apart without a doubt but
What you don’t know is out there for you to go and find

You were born for this
You were made for these times
You’re the hopeful face
Of the human kind

You gotta look ahead now, don’t worry I’m behind you
Loving you like I always have and always will
Life is the thing you make it so make the thing you want to
Take the scenic route, blaze a happy trail

You were born for this
You were made for these times
You’re the hopeful face
Of the human kind

You were born for this
You were made for these times
You’re the hopeful face
Of the human kind

Summer ’22

Here’s a song exploring the balance of individual freedom with community responsibility. The first lines came to me soon after I heard the news that Roe v. Wade had been overturned. They might just as easily have come from the mouth of an anti-masker a couple years ago. The next lines are a reminder that I have changed my opinion multiple times in my life and I’m likely to do it again – so I’m learning to hold less militantly to any position, and trying to pay closer attention and care to the people around me.

The prompt for this week 31 of #songaweek2022 was “armed and dangerous,” which brought to my mind the awful number of gun fatalities we’ve had right here in my city just this summer, not to mention the wider world.

The first lines of the little bridge at the end (“the rains come down and the floods go up”) came from a song I learned in Sunday School many years ago – about the wise man who built his house on a rock and the foolish one who built his house on the sand (thus the “sands of time” line for my further allusionary pleasure). I’m thinking here about actual flooding and wildfires, resulting from our foolish refusal to build sustainable systems that acknowledge our limits and our need to care for ourselves and our planet.

More than ever, I’m convinced that the way forward is the way of love – not blind sentiment but thoughtful, engaging, respectful and compassionate care for whoever I find myself facing, physically or virtually or however else, at the present moment.

Here’s something I read this week that I immediately cut and pasted in my notes, said by Valarie Kaur – “Listening does not grant the other side legitimacy. It grants them humanity—and preserves our own.”

I would probably do what they want me to
But since they took away my right to choose
I feel uneasy

So many things I used to rail against
Now they kind of make some sense
I take it easy

Think for yourself but please don’t stop there
Think about everybody else

I’ve been trying hard to hear the truth
But with all these voices shouting the news
It isn’t easy

And the heat sets in and the tempers rise
And the guns come out and somebody dies
It’s far too easy

Think for yourself but please don’t stop there
Think about everybody else

And the rains come down and the floods go up
As we race against the sands of time
And the fires burn and the tanks roll in
And the wide world weeps and the hearts of humans break

Think for yourself but please don’t stop there
Think about everybody else

To Bloom

This song started early last week as a guitar chord progression and a melody I just kept humming. Lots of lyric ideas that I didn’t like that first day or two. Then finally it started to come together lyrically. The bridge was inspired by Poem I, 16 from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, which I’m currently reading:

Because once someone dared
to want you,
I know that we, too, may want you.

When gold is in the mountain
and we’ve ravaged the depths
till we’ve given up digging,

it will be brough forth into day
by the river that mines
the silences of stone.

Even when we don’t desire it,
God is ripening.

Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy

Initially the recurring line was “your own life,” but as I was writing and singing I found I preferred “your one life,” because I like to remember the connectedness of all life; and also I’m influenced by that immortal line from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” – “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”

The video features photos from my mother’s garden, a happy place for all who enter.

Little self relax for now
Take it easy, take it slow
There’s nothing you can do about
The way some people think they know
The way that you should live your one life

Breathe in deep, breathe out free
You’re a part of everything
In every wave on every sea
The same love song’s reverberating
Through it all and in your one life

Make some room for something new to bloom

You keep looking back behind
Trying to make some sense of things that
Happened in another time
But there’s no way of bringing back
The days you’ve spent with your one life

Here is where you find yourself
Now is when you get to be
The one unlike anyone else
The one who’s got the sense to see
The light that dawns on your one life

Make some room for something new to bloom

Oh, the river that flows and mines the silence of stone
Seeds grow up with the weeds and God is what they become
Make some room for something new to bloom

Giant ego take a break
Wildflowers are underfoot
It’s not up to you to make
The world do all the good it should
It’s quite enough to live your one life