The Divine said: Keep them on the road.
I said: what about my passion?
The Divine said: Keep it burning.
I said: what about my heart?
The Divine said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: pain and sorrow?
He said: ..stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
Somewhere in between reading a Grub Street Daily email where Michelle Seaton talks about the prolific power of embracing pain in our writing (and our lives), and having the innards of my journal spill out across a cafe’s sienna colored tiled floor, (the moment truly felt poetic as I bent down to pick up its entrails—a map of Florence, a postcard of a family-run winery in San Donato, an image of the Arco di S. Giuseppe brick and mortar archway in Siena), inspiration struck.
And as if seemingly on cue, the lyrics of Metallica’s Unforgiven came dancing through that space on a waft of cool air, above the heads of afternoon caffeine-seeking patrons standing in line, words like leaves, lyrics like lakes
existing with a phosphorescent glow….
what i’ve felt/what i’ve shown/never shined through in what i’ve shown/never be
what i’ve felt/what i’ve shown/never shined through in what i’ve shown/never free
The girl in the pony-tail next to me was kind enough to help me collect those scattered memories of that trip to Tuscany, the fluttering pages of the partially empty journal that I recently resurrected to scribble my more present thoughts. Proceeding, of course, not without taking a look back between those blue linear lines at where I had been seven years ago.
As the music played, I was reminded of my first CD, Metallica’s Master of Puppets, and then memory moved to the soft finger dabbling I did last night on my own steel acoustic strings, illuminated by the background glow of the TV playing “Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding,” while synergy existed between my own inner instrument and the emotions being sung, my voice pouring out those feelings like delicate puddles, as candles flickered nearby, emiting their own arousing scent of forest pine. And despite all of those mixed sounds and radio-frequency signals, cacophony simply didn’t exist.
At least not in my mind’s eye.
I was singing a somewhat acapella version of Ingrid Michaelson’s “I’m Through”. Because the guitar “playing” was more like a hand’s extension of it’s extremities’ exploration, the way the movement across the strings felt was more melodious than the sound. Which felt good enough.
“The vocal folds move like waves” she had told me once, and showed me with her hands, the way the vibration of the sound billows up to the surface of one’s throat as we release the notes.
“You don’t have to make the guitar bleed,” another teacher had said, either before, or after, he told me he could tell I had some Keith Richards in my blood. That rolling compliment made the one about making the strings bleed feel like less of a criticism. Though there was a part of me that wondered why making the strings bleed a little was a bad thing, in the name of artistic expression, of course.
Those fingers, moving. As a way to keep themselves busy rather than moving in any act of accompaniment to my song,
those flexing, bending, and flexing again metacarpals, the masterminds of their own poetic prophetic bohemian rhapsody.
I had just read Deepak Chopra’s list of 7 Spiritual Laws for Success. My thumb pad had been active in that one, scrolling down through the wisdom of those words, my eyes illuminated by the reflective glow of a smartphone’s screen.
“A book has permanancy; an exhibit is over the minute they take the work off the walls.” The quote struck me. I continued to read my digital inbox messages, moving through the grub street email to the second part, the one that included this quote by Leslie Ann Starobin, in an interview about her book “Inheritance: Stories of Memory and Discovery.”
And then I began to wonder….Don’t we all want to be considered permanent in some way? Weather by story, memory, or discovery—to leave the energetic imprint of ourselves on the yellow wooden benches we sit in at cafes while we write, to leave crumbs of our own delicious delicacy on the dragons of those blue, green, and yellow Mallorcan ceramic-centered tiles, the ones grounded within the roundness of concentric tables.
As I sat there, I contemplated my own hibiscus tea bag, lying peaceful in the now lukewarm water that sat steaming seemingly only a few minutes ago. While the color flowed its way out of the white paper, the beauty of billowing red permeated the colorless liquid existing around it. And as I watched, a hibiscus flower escaped the confines of that parchment, only to float listlessly within the still contained water of that glass mug, floating there with patience.
And its magnificent escape felt somewhat triumphant.
Rivaled by the way empty muffin wrappers hold space on plates, where tea and muffins sit on tables & come to exist for us in the similar way that afterimages linger—like moving reflections on water. The way memories exist—somewhere we have been, something we have seen, someone we have known. Funny how the formation of a memory exists in real-time when we are aware enough to know we are creating those memories in those very moments.
Girl, its been a long time since we’ve been apart…..
There’s no-one like you….I can’t wait for the nights with you….I imagine the things we do….I just want to be loved by you.
The Scorpions were now playing in the background.
And as I sat there in that cafe, while the windows steamed up as if the stage fog had just been cued, the concrete steps of the street outside becoming quickly invisible, my plaid boots and denim jeans tightly wrapped around my legs with just a little bit more comfort.
I was reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, all 1168 pages of its heaviness resting upon my lap. Resting under that weight, I wondered if, as she wrote, Ayn had ever thought about her own permanence.
And then, I cleared my dishes, packed up, and went to yoga.