A Feather and a Scale

This morning I woke up, full of piss and vinegar as the saying goes, having just had the best sleep in months, after a particularly nasty run of insomnia, lasting a couple of weeks this time. I’ve never been a great sleeper…it takes a lot to knock this “Eveready bunny” out; when the world turns off, the quiet jumps to life like a massive canvas to dream on and that’s often when my best creativity gets to work, that and in the very early morning.

After getting the boy off to school at 7:15 and all the madness that that usually entails, I raced to my guitar, craving those strings so much after a weekend away without them. I’ve been working on the new tunes that I will be recording on an EP at the end of October, as well as practicing all the songs that I’ve written that will work with the direction I feel I’m going in, putting together a set or two for the live work that I feel coming up in the near future. I say “that I feel coming up” because it’s not booked yet, but I know it will be. Every time I practice guitar or sax or paint, I can feel it all going into a great big energy field that seems to be speeding up the harder I work, the more I believe in what I’ve accomplished. I’ve been working hard on fitness, mental and physical, reading, ingesting, observing…finding time and energy where I thought there was none and doing my best to defy the speed bumps, those of both external and internal origins and somewhere along the way, it seems I’ve started to believe in myself again. And with that work has come empathy, understanding, confidence.

Still, there are times when I question myself…the music business is more treacherous than ever, and I was recently speaking with someone who said a little worriedly to me when I was spouting off my passion for music these days, my ambitions, “Well, this IS a time when most people are gearing down to enjoy life a little…” But this IS how I enjoy life!! When I’m creating, honing, working towards a dream, that’s where a big part of my bliss lives. I’m aware that some people are bemused when I ask them not to put ceilings on my dreams…yes I’m a 53 year old woman, starting out again in the music/art/writing business, and I guess to many people that would qualify as a kind of madness…but I’ve not been known over the years to worry too much what most people think. Most people, not all:))

Anyway, I was thinking about what this EP is all about…there is definitely a story there…but I was trying to think about a title, a name that would act as an umbrella for what I am hoping will be a work of art. One of the joyous things about being myself in orbit of a music industry in flux is realizing that there are no rules; writing to make a hit or for any other reason, in my case, is irrelevant. Just being a 53 year old woman makes it so. That’s when you take what people would perceive as a negative and make it work for you. What some would see as chains I saw as an emancipation, the freedom to write only what I feel, what I love, what is art to me. It’s an exciting place to be in, and when you find yourself there it’s like a buzz of energy crawling under, in and on top of your skin and your soul, and you know, you just know you’re finally on the right path.

Awhile back I read “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera, highly recommended to all. It set me off on many introspective journeys, as great novels do, and inspired me in the writing of these new songs. Two quotes that spoke to me from the book:

“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”

“Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.”

There was much more to think about it from that book and many others I’ve read recently, but for the needs of this essay, I’ll leave it there.

Mulling through all this input, one of the songs I wrote that will be on the new EP is called “A Feather and a Scale”. I was toying with the idea that all we are, all we do, the love gained and lost, the traumas and worries, laughter and tears, at the end of a life, in the scheme of things, doesn’t really amount to much. There are millions, billions of people before us and after us that will live and die and this notion that in some way we might be immortal, that the weight of our life’s experience might translate into something that makes it “mean something” is rather…silly. Even the relative importance of Napoleon, Churchill, Picasso and Beethoven will be lost in time. Many people now have little time for books, music; anything longer than a text is taxing to their ability to focus.

But again, instead of saying to myself, “What’s the point of all this practise, writing, painting, exercising if not to share it with people, to share a vision, a soul?”, I have recently become content with understanding that all I can really take responsibility for in this world is what I do within it. If I am bitter, I will add bitterness. If I am happy, I will make people smile. I choose option number two. I choose to make beauty where I can as my offering to the universe to try to counterbalance what I perceive as the ugliness, the hate and antipathy so dominant in our media, our world. I choose to live this life like there is only today, with the weightlessness that comes with that acceptance. I choose to give love without worrying about it’s return. I reserve the right to choose the people and actions that will reflect light to my world, so that in return I can mirror that light back to them, maybe between us enough light to shine on others. If someone doesn’t understand how that works, I choose to respect myself enough to let them go, to leave room for someone who understands the path I am on, who will share it with me, not try to drag me off of it.

This morning I was thinking of all that while I practised my new songs, when suddenly it became very clear that my new EP will be called, “A Feather and a Scale”. I was as sure of that as anything I’ve ever been.

Then I was racing to a workout, realizing that time had not paused for my latest epiphany. I ran downstairs to take Lucy for a quick pee in the side yard, and as she was looking for a spot, I looked down on the flagstone path I had put in a few months ago to see a soft grey feather with a white tip, still dry, freshly fallen in the pouring rain.

Picking it up, I smiled. It was the first feather I had found since we moved here two years ago. Some things can be so obvious if you let them. I kept the feather with me on my way to the gym, afraid that someone would throw it out, promising myself to look up the “meaning of a feather on a path” when I got home. I have always been attracted to nature(especially birds:)), to the oneness of the universe. I’m not a believer in “organized religion”, or of every new wave spirituality fad but I enjoy the stories of Native spirituality, have always felt a closeness, a kinship with the earth. So I looked up online, “the Meaning of Feathers”. These are some of the ideas on the subject I found.

“The Native American people had a great spiritual understanding about feathers, their colours and their meaning. They would take the utmost care of any feathers that came their way as they saw it as a sacred gift, or a powerful talisman in battle.”

My feather is soft grey with a white tip:“ GREY – peace and neutrality (as it is in the middle of black and white), authenticness, flexibility.

WHITE – purification, spirituality, hope, trust, faith, protection, peace, Heaven, angels, and also act as blessings and wisdom connected with moon. Grey and white symbolize hope.”

“It is commonly thought in most cultures that feathers are symbols of higher thought, spiritual progression. The line of thought here is that birds were considered divine creatures in primitive/ancient cultures because they are creatures of the sky (heaven) and therefore closer to God.

When you find feathers upon your path it could be taken to mean that you are on a higher spiritual path (whether you accept it or not), and it may be a sign of encouragement as you philosophically travel on this path.

Finding feathers on your path is also symbolic of having a lighter outlook on life or a particular situation. When we see feathers in our midst it is considered a message that we need to lighten up, not take things too seriously, and try to find the joy in our situation.”

Yup. Makes sense to me:)