This week’s challenge was to improve my writers’ antennae by becoming a conscious observer for 10 minutes each day in a different place. Gifting myself the time to do this amidst a very busy week of work, shuttling the kids to their activities, finalizing details for our upcoming wedding (in 3 weeks - could I have timed this better?) etc...proved almost more difficult than the actual task of writing a song. Like many writers, I always keep a notebook with me wherever I go, and it definitely came in handy this week. On days when I was able to carve out the time, I recorded my observations/reflections as free writes, which I’ve included here to provide a glimpse inside the musings of my mind (I apologize in advance). On the hurried days, I just jotted down an idea or two for future pondering.
Day 1 ~ listening to my fiancé help his son with homework
Fathers and sons, communication, hard to be faced with yourself. Seeing yourself in a child and worrying about them, scared that they will go through the same struggles you went through. Possibly wanting to jump in and save them from themselves, but it is our mistakes and how we deal with them that make us who we are, help us learn. When to assist and when to let go -- enable or tough love? When to be firm like a rock and when to bend (give) in the wind. *striking a balance between the two** I was so busy trying to be your rock I forgot how to bend in the wind.
Or, a father trying to not be like his father. Trying to be more attentive, understanding, forcing patience when it has run out. Title: Not Him. But realizing in the end that there were things about his dad that were really valuable and special. Traits he wants to emulate.
He’s a great dad - list the things that make him one. How my heart melts to see him being such a great dad.
Day 2 ~ sitting in the car in the parking lot of my step-daughter’s dance studio, waiting to pick her up after ballet.
Parents waiting - what are they doing while they wait? Making lists, checking facebook, pondering what they wish they had done in their lives? What does how people wait say about them? The car is freezing and snow is on the ground, light spilling down from the studio. I know my step-daughter is up there, twirling, leaping, dancing on her toes. So graceful. It makes me wish I had taken dance as a child and then I might be more comfortable in my own skin.
I start thinking of the Ken Robinson story of the little girl who couldn’t sit still at school and was taken to the doctor. The doctor realized she had nothing wrong with her -- she was a dancer. They enrolled her in dance and she became a world-famous ballerina. Finding your passion.
How many kids find their escape in dance? Let the hurts and challenges of the day fly off as they spin, like water off the clothes in a spin cycle. They must feel the weight of the world lift from their shoulders as they lose themselves in the magic of music and the meditation of movement. How much better would we all feel if we could just let it all go and dance our days away? Not worry about anyone watching. I think of Van Morrison’s song, “Ballerina,” and the way he describes her as “spreading her wings.” I also think of the quote, “Dance as if no one is watching” and I envy the dancers upstairs their freedom to move without inhibition.
Now, here’s where my week got crazy. No more time for extended free-writes...
Day 3 ~ sitting on a bench at Crescent Beach just before sunset.
I had hoped to be able to catch snippets of conversation as people walked by, but there was hardly anyone there! Just people like me:
The gloaming time
Solitary souls lined on benches
Offering their valediction to the day
Together in our lonesomeness, locked in our contemplations.
An eagle soars over, silent as the setting sun.
City in the distance, far off rumble of traffic, like grumbling thunder. All alone, but surrounded. Mournful cry of a loon. Waves lap. Gravel crunches as a jogger resumes his run after seeing off the sun.
Day 4 ~ in line at the paint store, the clerk is on the phone:
“It’s definitely not grey” ~ seeing something for what it is. Sometimes situations are black and white. Sometimes you have to call something for what it is. A lot of people get by, hiding in grey.
“A picture won’t do it justice” ~ some things you have to see for yourself...
Day 5 ~ overheard at a local cafe:
“No, I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you before” ~ despite a man insisting they knew each other. What’s the story there?
The idea about the dancers stuck with me and ended up being what I wrote about. The idea of letting go, on your own, when no one is looking, and freeing yourself from the weight of worry that we all get from time to time.
Like Nobody's There
© Kelly McQuillan 2014
Sitting silently in the cold
Silhouettes pirouette on the freshly fallen snow
Painting the white with a warm moving light
On this dark February night
Long day arresting upon her soul
She sighs and she trudges the stairs all alone
Dragging her drudges, her eyes ringed with smudges
On a dark February night
She turns the stereo on
Cues it up to her favourite song
Spreads her fine wings
And spins till she's loose at the seams
A dance that no one ever sees
This skin that we're in can feel heavy and old
Make us yearn for the days that our youth wasn't sold
Out to the doubts, when the future glowed bright
Even on cold winter nights
What if we all could surrender the fight
Let go of the questions and let in the light
Far from the eyes that we hide from inside
Every night of our lives
Turn the stereo on
Cue it up to my favourite song
I'll spread these fine wings
And I'll spin my way back to my dreams
As I dance for no one else but me.
For recording, I made my first attempt at multi-tracking on an iPad, and it's pretty sad. I need to do some research on how to achieve better sound quality (and actually use Garageband properly). My earphone chord kept making noise, so there are some crackling sounds. Just pretend it's an old vinyl. A few takes bit the dust when my dog started snoring, too - lol. Ah, the joys of home recording on a budget.
Here's the Soundcloud link