Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Signs of Life
Late this afternoon I took an 8-mile bike ride. Sometimes people get all impressed with that, but really it’s not that far at all. I think it took me about 45-50 minutes but it seemed like 10. Why? Probably because it was a gorgeous pre-spring day (what else do you call 73 degrees in February? The air is warm but all the trees are still completely naked and perched on dead grass, spindly limbs reaching for a brilliant blue sky.) I put my iPod on shuffle and for the first time in a long time just lost myself in living. I rode through a very large park near our house and took in the sights as I listened to whatever came through the headphones. Some of the songs made me think of fond memories, though I enjoyed the variety of all the others too. Yes, I skipped a few, but for the most part I let it be.
I. Love. Music.
I rode mostly on trails and sidewalks (more like a boardwalk) and at one point just thought about swinging my arms around in the wind, so I did. And I sang at the top of my lungs.
I passed a field full of little kids playing T-Ball, none of them probably over the age of six. There was so much life in that wide-open space, children screaming and laughing and looking for their parents on the sidelines. It felt good to be racing down a hill and letting go of all the shoulds and have-to’s of the day, bouncing to the beat as I steered my bike in S’s on the sidewalk. The sun was beginning to set and I realized I needed to go home. But I didn’t want to. I was enjoying being alive, being here, on planet earth. I’m grateful that I can hear music, that my legs work, and that I’m able to lose myself in life again – even if it’s only for a moment here and there.
Grief is a weird thing. Even though I’ve not cried lately or dwelt on the death of my mother, I know it has clogged up my soul somehow. I haven’t been able to write. To read. To pray or meditate much. To create. On my way home I thought about starting to chronicle here what comes up on my iPod when I ride my bike, and suddenly I got excited at the thought. For the last six months I haven’t been able to blog to save my life, possibly because I don’t really know what to say. I feel stuck. So perhaps if I write about my bike rides and the music that fuels them, eventually I will get un-stuck.
I am tempted, sorely tempted, to edit this list because I’m afraid you’ll judge me prematurely. So don’t think you know my musical taste by reading this list.
And don’t be a hater.
Honky Cat – Elton John (Honky Chateau was one of my favorite high-school albums)
Sweet Lorraine – Patty Griffin
Close to You – Carpenters (Yes, THE CARPENTERS! They were the first concert I ever went to. And they remind me of my mother in a big way.)
Way to You – Brandi Carlile (She’s my current singer/songwriter crush.)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles
Dreamboat Annie – Heart (The Wilson sisters have no equals.)
Wrapped Up in You – Wayne Kirkpatrick (One of the most syrupy pop songs on the planet. And it always makes me want to dance.)
Cuckoo’s Nest – Nickel Creek
Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks (This makes me think of my daughter Anna, who sang this song in her middle school talent show. I smiled all the way through the song, thinking of her all those years ago.)
Angelina – Dave Berkley
Silver Lining – David Gray
Evil Woman – ELO
One Way or Another – Blondie
English Trees – Crowded House
Winter Birds – Ray Lamontagne
Holy, Holy, Holy – Ashley Cleveland (Over the last few years I haven’t been able to listen to much gospel music. It carries too much baggage from religious circles I’ve been a part of in the past. But Ashley transcends all of that; people who don't even believe in God at all love her. She’s actually in town doing a concert tonight, but I didn’t really have any desire to go. Instead I just put my bike in the garage and stood in the driveway, listening while I took in the nearly-full moon. Here's a link to the recording if you're interested in checking my opinion.)