Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Lyrical Universe

“Mighty Aphrodite” is the title hand-scrawled in black Sharpee ink on a home-made CD of music I was listening to last night. I vaguely remember the movie with Woody Allen and Mira Sorvino by the same title, but the two words together…the sound of it…stuck with me more. We English majors and that Greek mythology you know!

So, Aphrodite…Greek goddess of beauty and love…chosen to be the most beautiful in the first beauty pageant, winning the golden apple, and becoming the Miss Universe of the goddesses…becomes a kind of metaphor for my musical messages from the spiritual universe.

True to form, the women singer-songwriters on my aptly named disk speak the Universal Truths to me. I can listen to those songs over and over again without thinking a thing about the lyrics, and then some days, well, the lyrics just kind of hit me over the head and I hear the message I need to hear.

I had a rather detached weekend. I felt myself slipping out of the frenzy of accomplishment and goal-setting. Losing sight of the reasons to be happy in the moment. Feeling like I was living for an uncertain future.

One of the big decisions that I have made recently is to move “home.” And that’s home in every sense of the word—into my parents’ home, in the town where I spent my high school years (my daughters will graduate from the same school as their parents), to that part of the country that seems slightly foreign now, but oh-so-real-and-familiar. Comforting. Where there are roots long-buried in the land. Still, it’s a scary prospect sometimes.

I’ve been away for 15 years. I’ve gone back to visit, on average, less than once per year. But I reached a moment when I realized that home is where my heart is. I’ve grown enough to understand the past. I no longer fear the ghosts of it—as much. But since I’ve decided to go back, I’ve had to take another look at some old specters I’d thought were laid to rest.

This weekend I beat myself up for not “grabbing the Queen Power” sooner. The little voice said: “Look at all you haven’t done. Look at what your kids have missed out on because you didn’t. What were you thinking? How could you? Why didn’t you learn your lessons from your past…from your own childhood? Why didn’t you overcome this a long time ago?”

But then I heard these lyrics by Edie Brickell and I heard them for what seemed like the first time:

If a child lives with money, he learns to spend his time.
If a child lives with crazy, he goes out of his mind.
I didn’t live with nothin’ that’s worth talkin’ about,
But I didn’t live with nothing, no I never went without.
But there is one thing that I really need to know
What do you have to live with before you learn to grow?
I’ve taken giant steps; I've walked far away from home,
But I need a little help—can I make it on my own?
Some days I can and some days I can't,
And some days I just don't know where it is I'm at.

I thought, “Wow. Yeah…that’s me. Some days I can, and some days I can’t.” I reminded myself that I don’t have to be perfect to be powerful or Queenly. And I have plenty to be thankful for, even if I feel that there are ghosts of pain hiding in the shadows of my past. And I am growing, so I’m actually better off, perhaps, than the speaker of these lyrics.
While other songs played, my mind chewed on those lyrics…that is, until Tracy Chapman told me something I needed to hear to temper the feeling of loss from the weekend and from Edie’s song. (Did I mention my mom’s name is Edie? The song’s title is “Mama Help Me.” Interesting…).

But here’s what Tracy said:

You can look to the stars in search of the answers,
Look for God and life on distant planets,
Have your faith in the ever after,
While each of us holds inside the map to the labyrinth
And heaven's here on earth.
We are the spirit, the collective conscience.
We create the pain and the suffering and the beauty in this world.
Heaven's here on earth:
In our faith in humankind;
In our respect for what is earthly;
In our unfaltering belief in peace and love and understanding.

I’ve heard this song for years, and I’ve understood the words, but I heard them with new ears last night. I think we all continually remind ourselves of this Universal Truth. We know it, but just like Rule Number One in Cherie Carter-Scott’s If Life/Love/X Is a Game, These Are the Rules books, we forget Truth—as a rule.

If forgetting the Truth is built-in, then all we can do is create mnemonic devices to help us keep the forgetting down to a minimum. We need to schedule encounters with the Holy. Set ourselves up for success, and fall into its pillowy softness with absolute abandon. Read, write, eat, breathe, beat, and sing our way to the Truth. One of my favorite ways to remind myself of the Truth is to listen to music.

Edie and Tracy always sing the Truth. Their songs capture and hold the Truth…save it…store it in memory for me, so that every now and again my heart hears what it needs to hear. Making my own CD of Truth keeps me from dipping too low into an intolerance of my humanity. Edie reminds me that I can ask my parents for help, or that growth is a struggle—she keeps me humble. And Tracy reminds me that “Heaven’s Here on Earth” during those times when I start to think that my goals are outside of me or beyond me; she reminds me that I’m special. She reminds me that “Truth is Divinity.”

© Nicole J. Williams, 2005, all rights reserved

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Thanks for reading my new blog. I really appreciate the nice words. I'm glad to know about your site and will continue to check in. Take care.
Lisa Cookston