Archive for July, 2013

don’t think twice, it’s alright.

the pop songs we grow up with form our language of thought. It’s those lines we go to again and again round and round in the circle game of our inner dialogue.

are you gonna let me go there by myself? how many times has that line repeated and repeated in the agony of unrequited love?

Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Carole King…

it’s too late, baby

in Joni Mitchell’s fantastic interview with Jian Ghomeshi, Joni talks about how she insists that her listeners relate to the words. not to the singer behind the words.

the whole interview is fantastic. here it is.

I wish I had a river I could skate away on. is that great, or what?

great pop poetry becomes the iconic phrases, those go to comfort foods of the heart. powerful words that resonate long before we’re even aware that they’re there. The other night I put Court and Spark on my record player, lay down on the sofa completely overcome by the magnificence of that record. I only got up to change sides. remember that? My original vinyl recording still sounds fantastic! Besides Joni’s brilliant songs, great playing and arrangements, I was struck by how many of those words had become my own language. my own way to explain things to myself.

such power behind the popular song.

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yesterday I rode the storm.

there were at least two places I could have pulled into a kfc or tim’s right off the highway, but chose not to…what was I thinking?

on an adrenalin high as though I had injected it directly through my veins, every fibre of my being in sheer terror.

it was fight or flight. why did I choose to fight it out?

isn’t it time I learnt to respect nature?

once in a while we get reminded how powerless we are. no matter what we think, in the end nature holds all the cards.

nature, her beauty, awesome and terrifying will always win out.

When I was a kid, my dad and I raced our Rhodes 19 every Monday night during racing season. He skippered, I worked the jib. And when the wind came up he’d point us as hard as he could, with me pulling in the sail callous upon callous, my short petite body hiking out of the boat hanging on by my feet…and when the wind died down, we’d try to grab every breath of it. he by intelligent skippering, me by sensing where the wind was breathing through the sheet of the sail through my small hand. we had a parade of pennants to show for it.

Until I reached adolescence, I was a speed freak, and I was fearless. My dad threw me in the water under the age of two and after I emerged spitting and giggling, that became my home. I had a special badge at the pool where they had a strict height restriction for the deep end. It wasn’t until I took up racing and had a flip turn contest with my friends, that I actually experienced anything frightening in water. That day changed me. It may have been after 7 or 8 somersaults that I realized I had no idea where the surface of the water was. When I finally emerged, I was terrified.

Bombing down a hill snow skiing, slaloming in and out of the wakes water skiing, my love of adrenalin and sheer joy of abandon knew no bounds. until one day, and I’m not sure when and how exactly, it suddenly occurred to me to be fearful. wild abandonment turned to abject fear overnight, it seemed.

My first real experience of our powerlessness against nature happened while climbing a mountain in the Sinai desert. We were given very little instruction and no ropes. All that went through my mind was… 3 points of contact…two arms and a leg, two legs and an arm. Climbing up was easy. exhilarating and utterly riveting. I could always hoist myself up a little higher. But coming down was an altogether different story. That was where I began to see myself as just a tiny creature, no larger than an ant against the hugeness of the mountain. of nature. awesome.

I honestly don’t know how I got myself out the predicaments I found myself in that day. How I could reach down with a toe, hanging by a single finger on the side of a mountain with nothing but my own wits to guide me. In the height of the moment all that existed was the mountain and me. It may have been the single most focussed day of my life. Strangely, in the grip of the moment, I felt no fear at all. I was much too busy. fear wasn’t an option. In fact, what I thought was…I understand why people climb mountains. It was a feeling of euphoric joy, that feeling of oneness with nature. no separation between me and that mountain, and that as long as I stayed connected to it, I was going to be okay.

It was only after I finally returned to the ground that fear took over and I realized what a truly dangerous situation I had put myself into.

So remind me, next time you see me riding out a storm, that flight is in fact the intelligent option.

I should save abandonment for playing jazz.

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I recently returned to writing morning pages.

Morning pages are generally three pages of writing. just writing. allowing the pen and thoughts to flow where they will.

Morning pages are an idea of Julia Cameron‘s, which she talks about in The Artist’s Way. It’s a great book.

…and it’s been a few years since I deliberately wrote them.

My return to the pages was initially inspired by a recent trip to Boston to attend a friend’s wedding. I had arranged to meet a few friends for dinner and I decided to get to the train stop an hour early to sit and write lyrics. I’d been grappling with these words for a while now, and thought that an hour without my usual home distractions could be a good idea. no cell phone, internet, messes to clean up.

I never got to the lyrics. My pen decided that I needed to write more about what I was trying to say with the text, and I furiously wrote free verse prose barely remembering to sip my coffee. Images and half-baked idea snippets came hurtling down the tracks of thought – thought to hand, hand to pen, pen to paper. Stunning images followed by awful hackneyed phrases. As I wrote I kept thinking: wait. don’t edit. not yet. there’s time for all that later… why don’t I do this anymore?

Over the last few weeks I’ve made some feeble attempts to write, so I finally decided to return to morning pages. On the first day I asked myself: why morning pages? I have volumes of the stuff I never read. But I remembered that once in a while a great idea emerges from the rough– an idea for a poem or a project, perhaps.

So this time I’ve given myself a few guidelines:

write to mine for ideas – and when something emerges, try to shape it immediately.

write for therapy – I hereby give myself permission to throw things out.

…that’s what the pen does. it beckons the rawest form of thought. images great and terrible grappling for my attention in blurts and stops and starts and distracted non sequiturs. make it impossible to write it all down before I blankly stare at the page. and through it all rescue me from my initial intention of what I thought I wanted to write about into the world of what I need to write about.


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there is a rhythm to the road. a speed, density and distance that includes other drivers, the shape of the road, width and breadth of the vista and peripheral views. how much can I see?

I’m particularly aware of it on the highway, and I usually forget about it otherwise…

and it doesn’t matter how fast or how slow you’re driving.

If driving isn’t just a function of getting from point A to point B, it’s just so much more fun. especially going up the 400 on a Saturday (when you don’t have an early start)

We’re a bit haphazard here. I remember highways in France. No one sits in the passing lane. It’s for passing. But when the speed limit is 130, it had better be.

So going up the 400 on a Saturday getting perilously close to noon, there is plenty of time to reflect about driving. and here’s the thing:

It’s not about speed. It’s more about space.

simply put: I like to be around other drivers who have the same sense of space and proximity that I do.

We all have our comfort levels of distance until it feels like someone is invading our space. Of course, when we mutually consent to breach that with another person, it’s wonderful…

but not while driving.

So I like to surround myself by other drivers who don’t get too close either to me or to the car ahead of them. I try to move away from drivers who accelerate and brake practically up to the bumper of the car ahead.

It’s just not fun to follow those cars. I prefer to coast and accelerate, braking to slow down and change the kinetic energy, but the goal is to do it smoothly, and to maintain, if possible, my own distance comfort level to the car ahead.

and to minimize or avoid as much as possible complete stops.    stop.

I remember being in a car once with a driver who had one foot on the gas pedal and one on the brake. at least that’s how it felt. you know, that jerky jutting feeling. I felt seasick.

Also, I don’t like to be behind things I can’t see around. I like to see at least a car or two ahead. to see what may be coming up.

At the same time, I’m aware of cars behind me, and will deliberately try to get away from the ones who consistently come too close.

Yesterday, I was followed for a long time by a driver in a jeep who had the same internal distance meter that I have. It was a pleasure. even crawling up the 400.

but for a short while I was followed by a woman wildly gesturing in a subaru getting closer to me that I like. I moved away when I could.

And here’s the thing about cruise control. Yes, it has its conveniences, and yes, I do use it. I love it –

but I do believe that unless it’s a fairly empty road, not having the connection of foot to gas to brake compromises my awareness of the inherent rhythm of the road.

rhythm of thought, motion, proximity, pen to paper. the rhythm of the road.

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