“Is everybody in? Is everybody in? Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin. The entertainment for this evening is not new. You’ve seen this entertainment through and through. You have seen your birth, your life, your death….you may recall all the rest. Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?” ~ Jim Morrison, American Prayer
I think about these words by Jim Morrison probably more than I should. To me, they remind me to live in the now…in the light of the day. They prompt me to ask if I’m missing anything. If I’m doing everything I can be doing. For myself. For others.
I am having a sappy day again. A day of pondering… I think about missed opportunities. I think about crushing others and how not to. Walk softly and you will not scatter the dreams of those in your wake. Do unto others. Skip the light fantastic…fandango. Let’s think about life for a while. Every once in a while something comes up that illuminates things for me. Makes me aware. Makes me appreciative. Makes me question my intentions and hope that I’m doing enough. Makes me wonder and wander.
Today, there is no sun shining. But that’s a matter of perspective. It’s always there. It doesn’t go away. If we need a little light in our lives, it’s sometimes up to us to put it there. We can’t wait around for the clouds to dissipate. I tend to lean towards music as therapy for the dark days. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that here before. Nothing brings out the sun better than the right beat. And beautiful lyrics to accompany it.
Like Stevie Wonder says in Sir Duke, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand. With an equal opportunity for all to sing, dance and clap their hands…” It truly is a transformative art-form.
Sometimes, it’s not only happy songs that lift me. Sometimes maudlin or thought-provoking does the same thing.
THE THE – Perfect… Oh, what a perfect day To think about my silly world My feet are firmly screwed to the floor What is there to fear from such a regular world? Passing by a cemetery I think of all the little hopes and dreams That lie lifeless and unfilled beneath the soil I see an old man fingering his perishing flesh He tells himself he was a good man and did good things Amused and confused by life’s little ironies He swallows his bottle of distilled damnation
I believe we have one chance to dance this globe. Regrets can eat up a lot of that time. Lord knows I know that truth. But I don’t want to be hopes and dreams lying lifeless and unfulfilled beneath the soil. I want to go to that big sleep having done everything I ever wanted to do. Fearless and tired and ready for the nap… Another THE THE song that I love… This Is The Day…
Well you didn’t wake up this morning ’cause you didn’t go to bed You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red The calendar on your wall is ticking the days off You’ve been reading some old letters You smile and think how much you’ve changed All the money in the world couldn’t buy back those days
You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky This is the day your life will surely change This is the day when things fall into place
You could’ve done anything, if you’d wanted And all your friends and family think that you’re lucky But the side of you they’ll never see Is when you’re left alone with the memories That hold your life together like glue
This is the day, your life will surely change…
“Another year older, and a new one just begun…” ~ So sang John Lennon in Happy Christmas (War is Over)
2015 hasn’t begun yet, but it’s just a sneeze away. With another year under our belts, we sometimes can’t help but reflect. All the New Year cliches come out of the woodwork. We either stay away from, or join, the nearest gym. We think about all the things we accomplished in the year that is ending, and all the things we failed to do. We think about all the things we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year, all the things we know we will miss out on.
It’s just that time of year.
2014 was my year of travel. I will probably never travel as much in one year as I did in 2014. I did British Columbia, Spain, Paris, New York, Quebec City and Orlando, Florida. Capped it all off with a swing-by of Stratford, Ontario this past weekend. (-:
I made many new friends and experienced too many phenomenal things to list here. I grew through walking across Spain on the trail to Camino De Santiago. I walked up mountains and down mountains and through mountains.
I stopped to smell the flowers, to laugh, to cry, to make amends. I stumbled barefoot through mud and rocks and grass. I had a picnic like never a picnic was ever had before, or ever will be had again…at the apex of a beautiful hill, in tall grass with friends–fellow peregrinos.
I met a man I hardly shared words with, but who made me weep like a baby, a pilgrim from France who had found more than he had ever bargained for on the Camino…the love of a million pilgrims and one. He was that special.
I shouted into the rain and walked through snow. And at the end of the long journey, I walked into a city more beautiful than any emerald one could ever be. And, by some stroke of magic, I saw all those I had met along the way. I stood on the roof of THE Cathedral and viewed that beautiful city in 360 degree splendor from that holiest of lofty places.
I walked the quiet morning back-roads of Galiano Island with the wild wind at my back and the Pacific Ocean at my side.
I saw Canadian flags wave greetings from boats in a tiny harbour there, while the Canadian Rockies in the background swallowed up anything else in my view.
I stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower and scanned a city heretofore a mere dream to me…a fantasyland where Fitzgerald and Hemingway wined and dined and wrote and sang and lived. Never did Paris mean more to me than that, until I was there. It opens anew to each visitor, presents a unique place in the heart of each guest. I stomped up the Champs-Élysées with my new friend, Nina, and together we took on the endless spiral staircase inside the Arc de Triomphe and we stood at the top exhausted and filled with light and love and we smiled on the fair city that stretched out in fingers away from the tower.
Together we walked the Tuileries, and sat for mayhaps a little too long sipping red wine while the sun went down and the rats in the bushes beside us scurried.
We drank absinthe at a lovely little outdoor cafe, where we admired shoes and broke glasses and laughed until we were sore…nay, until we soared! With our group, THE LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT, we wandered museums, we took the Metro, we walked Montmartre, we wrote in Le Jardin de Luxembourg, we entered the great WORD CATHEDRAL—SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY. We entered Shakespeare & Company! After decades of imagining it.
I don’t care that I am running on and on, for with each word comes another remembrance. My year. My year!
CHARLIE. And CHARLIE. AND CHARLIE. CHARLIE! In the midst of it all was born a beautiful boy. Little Charlie Bucket, who will one day know what that means.
What it’s like to step inside Notre Dame Cathedral when it’s empty at eight in the morning (mark that down! At ten, the lines are so long you could die before entering!) is something that will stay with me for ever. It is a simultaneous feeling of being infinite and of being nothing at all. And to think, I stayed only a couple of minutes up the road from that most famous of cathedrals…the centre point of the old universe itself.
Later, I stood atop Rockefeller and looked down at the most famous park in the world and wondered at its vastness and its nothingness. A green thick and wild and in the centre of one of the world’s most thriving and populated meccas.
And the lady of the harbour, I saw her too.
And to walk the streets of Old Quebec City after wandering the streets of Paris is to know the connection. plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
An ocean between the two places, and a hint of the struggle that came with building the second in the shadow of the first.
Each beautiful, each unique. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
OOH! Disney and Universal in Orlando. Something MAGIC this way comes!
I’m another year older, yes. But I’m also so much younger. I have learned a great deal in 2014. I am grateful for every new soul in my life. Each and every one of you!
I thought I would write a few words about my year and move on to Things to Come. Sorry…that just came out of its own accord.
So on with THINGS TO COME. What will 2015 have in store for me.
On January 19th, my 5th novel will be released! HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN won the Muskoka Novel Marathon‘s BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD! Now, it’s going to be available to all to read. It’s actually already available for pre-order at Amazon:
What of THIS TOO SHALL PASS, you ask? This was something I always promised myself of all the bad things. And now it is something I realize happens also with all the good. So—grab onto every single moment you have. Every single one. Hold on for dear life and enjoy the ride. Whether it is good or bad, it is fleeting. This too shall pass…
I often sing, “the girl with colitis goes by”. Much the same way as I often sing, “hold me closer, Tony Danza“. Just because. What does this have to do with anything? Nothing. I just thought of this after I wrote the title of this post. Naturally, whenever anybody anywhere hears a line from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds they immediately burst into song…singing the entire song from front to back and back to front. It’s just, as humans, what we do. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is so ingrained it is part of our DNA. Right? I’m not the only one who thinks this, am I?
Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly;
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
So inspiring, right!? It tickles…I can practically feel the mind-mapping of creativity when I hear these lines. They SPARK!
Newspaper taxis appear on the shore,
Waiting to take you away.
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds,
And you’re gone.
So, about the title of the blog. I’m sure ALL of your calendars are showing APRIL as highlighted for NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, right?
Now I KNOW nobody just thought, ‘What? What’s he talking about?!’ I know you all marked off the entire month the minute you opened your crisp new calendars back in January. If you didn’t–and I know you all did, so this is just a hypothetical–I will give you a moment to do so now. Don’t worry. I’ll wait here. Please…go forth and mark your month of April as POETRY MONTH. Highlight it as you see fit. I’ll be here when you get back.
Done? Okay. Shall we continue.
Because APRIL is looming I have been doing a lot of thinking about INSPIRATION. In my mind poetic inspiration comes from a very different place than does fictional inspiration. I don’t know if it SHOULD, but it DOES. It’s actually songs like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds that push me to be poetical. There’s something extremely delightful in the nonsensical. Lucy has it, as does anything by Dr. Seuss. And even good ole Gord Downie in a way. But I think his version of nonsensical is more refined…he is a man who absolutely unequivocally reveres the English language. He doesn’t write lyrics, he sculpts them. Songs like BOBCAYGEON make me want to use my laptop as a TV tray. Because I know I will never find more beautiful words hitting its keys than the words composed in that song. I just made that sound like it stilts me rather than inspires me, I know, but it’s the kind of beauty of words found in Bobcaygeon that devastates me into trying. When I am completely humbled by gorgeous word combinations that take my breath away, it triggers something inside. It makes me want to discover language in ways I have heretofore not accomplished. So these songs tear my heart out and leave me a quivering mass of ruined flesh twitching on the floor in a near-death frenzy of apocalyptic jealousy and rage. But in a good way. I set up my idols–contrary to that silly little biblical threat about said idols–and I worship at their feet. If Gord Downie can have a weather vane Jesus, I can have a popsicle stick Gord Downie.
I have gotten so far away from where I was going with this post that I no longer remember what I was going to say. But Gord Downie!
So, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. As I search for poetic inspiration that will help me get into that place I need to be in for National Poetry Month (henceforth NPM), I listen to the songs that will put me there. Whatever it is that inspires you poetically, now is a good time to start immersing yourself in it. One of the challenges of NPM is to WRITE ONE POEM A DAY EVERY DAY FOR THE WHOLE MONTH OF APRIL. In order to do that, I need to be kept constantly inspired. In order to do that, I need to have several things working in conjunction with one another. The biggest is a great soundtrack that has both beautiful and quirky songs in it. I look for the songs that have over-the-top silly lyrics and the songs that have those beautiful unattainably gorgeous lyrics that make my head explode. It’s kind of a pleasure/pain thing that inspires me. Let’s have a look at a couple lines from Tragically Hip songs, shall we?
Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat kings have all treasures buried
And all you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weathervane Jesus
Those are the intro lines to WHEAT KINGS. And more from that song…
There’s a dream he dreams where the high school’s dead and stark
It’s a museum and we’re all locked up in it after dark
Where the walls are lined all yellow, grey and sinister
Hung with pictures of our parents’ prime ministers
I don’t know what it is…I hear lyrics like these and I just want to curl fetus-like and bawl. There’s nothing particularly stunning, visually, but the words are beautiful…they conjure ennui and nostalgia. They leave me wrecked. Bobcaygeon has the same effect…
I thought of maybe quitting
I thought of leaving it behind
I went back to bed this morning
And as I’m pulling down the blind
Yeah, the sky was dull, and hypothetical
And falling one cloud at a time
Not to mention FIDDLER’S GREEN. That song hollows me to the ground. One of my brothers performs in local bars and when he does Fiddler’s Green, it destroys me. It’s probably one of the most beautiful songs ever written.
His tiny knotted heart
Well, I guess it never worked to good
The timber tore apart
And the water gorged the wood
You can hear her whispered prayer
For men at masts that always lean
The same wind that moves her hair
Moves her boy through Fiddler’s Green
We are ALL different, aren’t we. Others may hear the songs that inspire me and think nothing of them. The trick is to never stop hunting for the things that make that little switch in our hearts flick to on. For me, it’s great lyrics. They just make me want to write. I’m playing all the songs that inspire me…I need to grease up the cogs that make my brain move poetically. So if you’re nearby, you may hear me singing these songs in the next couple of weeks…and for that I truly apologize. I’m sure a skinned cat’s screams would be more audibly appealing than my vocal stylings.
So, prepare yourself for APRIL. Make it a goal to write ONE POEM a day. JUST ONE. If preparing, for you, is listening to music, then do so. If it’s crocheting, then crochet. If you find inspiration by licking pavement…I urge you to get down on the ground and lick away. If reading Dr. Seuss is the crank that moves you, then do so! Ignite the spark that will see you through the entire month. On April first, don’t go in for the cheesy old April Fool’s Day nonsense. Dance poetica…
You know it’s going to be an interesting day when you wake up with The The lyrics playing in your head. The following lines float in my mindscape quite often, a little threat to suggest what could happen if I don’t take risks and chances at every opportunity that comes my way:
Passing by a cemetery,
I think of all the little hopes and dreams,
That lie lifeless and unfulfilled beneath the soil.
I see an old man fingering his perishing flesh.
He tells himself he was a good man and did good things.
Amused and confused by life’s little ironies,
He swallows his bottle of distilled damnation.
Yep. There it is. All the threat you need to never say NO again!
I often use those lines as a means to motivate myself into doing something I’m more than a little terrified to do. Say, public speaking. Do I really want to be a bag of bones lying lifeless and unfulfilled beneath the soil? NO. I want it to be said that I took risks, that I pushed beyond my own imaginary limits. I don’t want to live in my comfort zone anymore!
It’s harder than one would imagine. Trust me. But the rewards far outweigh the terrifying fear I sometimes find myself in. And…it does get easier. Those things you think you could never do. Do them. Do them once. Do them twice. Do them whenever the opportunity arises. You’ll find that the sixth time is just a little bit easier than the fifth.
One day, I hope to master this public speaking thing. I’ve been having a lot of opportunities lately to speak. Last month I did a writing workshop on Pantsing and Plotting. I was constantly waiting for the wall of nervous jitters to hit. The thing is…it didn’t. I was comfortable. Admittedly, some of the things I wanted to discuss in the workshop left my brain. I stumbled and stuttered a bit with the odd brain fart. But…here’s the thing…I did NOT pass out. I remember the first time I read in front of the writing community I am a part of. I had to sit down with my back to the audience. How insane is that. If I didn’t sit, I would have fell…my legs were made of that much jelly.
So, whenever fear strikes I just sing The The lyrics to myself. I have those lines chase me into submission. I will not cower away from opportunities I know I will enjoy. I will not cower away from opportunities I know I will enjoy. This conquering of my own will has brought me to a lot of cool places in recent years. I laugh when I think of the way I begged a play festival producer to give me a chance to be a playwright in his festival. ME! A playwright. That would never happen! And five years later I now have two plays in an upcoming festival in Toronto. These will be plays number 6 & 7. And did I ever imagine that I would be in a recording studio at the CBC building, actually recording something I wrote for the radio? Not in my life! But after getting over the initial horror, I think that experience went okay as well. Thankfully, I had a fellow writer friend with me!
What’s this all about? Taking chances. LIFE OPENS UP WHEN YOU OPEN UP TO LIFE. Just keep on singing those terrifying lines I quoted up there. ^ Nobody wants to get to the end of their life and think, “I wish I would have done all those things I was too afraid to do!” Take chances. Push yourself well beyond your limits. You may just enjoy doing those things you’re a little nervous to try. (Disclaimer–if this prompts you to go jumping out of an airplane and your parachute doesn’t open, please don’t pin it on me.)
Go forth. LIVE!