Archive for June, 2015
Sometimes I get ‘letting go’ confused with ‘pushing away’. Do you know what I mean?
Life seems to be a series of lessons in learning the art of ‘letting go’; be it from the small scale of releaseing your soother as a baby or sharing toys with siblings as a child – to larger scale of learning how to to say goodbye to someone who passes away or surrendering to the expectations you have on the people or world around you … maybe even washing your hands of anger or pain. Certainly existence presents us all with times where we truly do have to ‘let go’ verses holding on to the emotions, presumptions or the people who it would serve us better to separate from.
I’m still discovering that art; ever considering if there is in fact a sure fire formula in which to ‘let go’. I used to hold on to childhood confusion (perhaps there’s residue even still) but years away from home provided opportunities to ‘grow up’ and experience life completely separate from boyhood, resulting in time to broaden my life perspective. Blessed with a newfound understanding that life and people can evolve, as could I – I feel gratitude and peace with that. Nothing is ever completely black or white.
Experiencing the feeling of letting go is liberating, if you know you’ve done it. Personally I want to live life with as little baggage as possible and instead live it with as much joy and love as is avaliable; but joy and love are difficult to achieve when you are attached to old wounds, right? Or new bruises you don’t know how to communicate much less heal.
As someone who understands this much, I’ve not found it any easier to let go per se, but I have gotten better at spotting those things which I cling onto; like expectations I put on others without knowing it, or flawed thoughts. Life has always presented me people and places in which my error-ed beliefs are directly challenged.
On the other hand, because I’m no expert on the art of ‘letting go’, and given I’m still learning that dance – I recognize my own ability to potentially drive people away. Put up walls and push people away in confusion. My intention may be to come from a place of ‘letting go’ and yet I can still wind up sending people away – leading me to wonder – what gives? How do I learn this complicated dance between letting go and pushing away?
It had me thinking:
If ‘letting go’ is waving goodbye, giving a hug or coming from peace…
Pushing away is turning your back, putting a hand up in protection or coming from fear…
In the end – all I can do is keep dancing, figuring things out trial and error; knowing nothing is black or white, we’re all allowed to make mistakes and grow – and that the ultimate goal is to learn and live with love and joy.
Thank you for the music. I sometimes think to myself that I’m lucky to have music in my life, as a way to express things inside. In actuality I have the hardest time telling people how I feel, particularly if how I feel includes anger or confusion or resentment. Pain. Its easy as one-two-three for me to listen. But to share myself honestly all the time? It can be a difficult thing to do, and perhaps especially for those of us who are very sensitive people to begin with.
That’s why I love coming home and picking up my guitar, weather I’m just fiddling around or seriously working on songs. I write from a very personal place but I also love story-telling. It helps me to focus on melodies or create them along with the words inside that get otherwise very scrambled up in my head whenever I’m faced with opportunities to actually say them in life. There are many times I go through writers block, which gets irritating when you might have a slew of thoughts inside that are all cluttered up but you’re incapable of speaking. Even just humming along with my guitar gives me an anchor and an appreciated feeling of comfort. I’m also very excited about a batch of songs I’m working on; and I’m proud to say I have some very special people in my life who I’ve been collaborating with more, as a way to share and make some hopefully stellar music in the collective process. I think there are going to be some special things ahead.
Special thanks to my Dad for buying me this guitar last Christmas and to my sister Ebony for helping him with the big surprise. I’ll always cherish this guitar.
Once upon a time I worked at a children’s camp. Growing up in Flin Flon, there was no luxury of going off to a camp with programs quite like Camp Stephens; a YMCA/YCWA camp located in Lake of the Woods, Ontario. I did however, find myself working for and residing on the island over the summers of 2001 and 2002.
At the time I was working at a YMCA daycare center in downtown Winnipeg; seeking adventure and challenge. It became an opportunity I couldn’t resist and at 22 years of age I was a bit of a free spirit, in fact it was after these two summers that I landed myself permanently in Ottawa, where I then stayed for ten years.
It did not matter I had no summer camp experience nor did I come equipped with that sense of encampment history, much like the alumni and staff I eventually came to work with. It mattered not that it paid little and was located on a remote island where they had to boat staff/kids out. Experience was what I craved and I do believe I got it over those two summers. Beginning as a camp counsellor, I ended up working as the Head Cook for a period of time too. So many good memories of those dog days: all the children playing and laughing; youthful camp counselors who seemed to be hooking up with each other left and right; sleeping in cabins on bunks and waiting for letters to reach me from family or friends back home; and those weekends off where we’d all boat back into Kenora for the day and eat at Boston Pizza and stock up on luxuries for weekends of planned debauchery. That is, until the new batch of children came and it was time to get back to the grind in our respective roles.
There are a couple of stand-out memories even today: I recall crying by myself on the swim dock one sunny afternoon while everyone else gathered in the food hall for lunch, likely surrounded by laughter and camp cheer. It was my inherent loneliness. In spite of any mission to live on the edge I felt out of place for not being a life-long ‘camp kid’; especially remote in the belief I was the only identifying gay on the island; an isle otherwise full of boys and girls bursting with hormones and sexuality. And that was just the other staff!! On the other hand, I call to mind many unique people, having a lot of conversations with peers and eventually feeling included and a part of the amazing tradition that is still Camp Stephens. I have reminisced about walking in the dark back to my cabin from the food hall, giving haircuts to new friends on cabin floors and soliciting free love advice; dancing to Destiny’s Child in the kitchen while we all slaved and prepared meals for over 120 kids and staff around the clock. I remember skinny-dipping at night with girlfriends in escape the hot hot heat; feeling liberated while treading water in the moonlight.. only to rush back to the cabin before the onslaught of mosquitos or sand flies. So many special people. THANK YOU to Camp Stephens and all of my past friends and the children whom I have long since lost touch with; the summers of 2001/2002 were the stuff youth is made of and I’ll gladly continue to cherish the memories.
Below is a photo from back when, of myself and my kitchen ‘girls’. I still hear them laughing and talking.
“Sometimes you gotta honk your own horn, ‘cause if ya don’t know ones ever gonna know your coming!” – Dolly Parton.
Much like my idol Dolly Parton, I consider myself a story-teller first and foremost. I love song-writing and whether I’m good at it or not, it’s the purest way I can express myself. I live to produce refrains and as I get older, try embracing that urge to grow as well. Like a tree wants to reach toward the sunny sky I try to grasp musical aspirations.
Half of me agrees with what Dolly affirms about honking your own horn. While I may have my ‘9 to 5’ job in the healthcare profession (no pun intended) my truest joy comes from my love of making music and performing. Music represents that ‘authentic’ part of myself and I’m compelled to share it, driven to connect to the larger society; as music is so universal it seems any persons melodious skills are gifts worth sharing. This part that strives to adhere and grow also understands there’s times in our life where we seize opportunities; make them, and times we’ll miss or waste them. I look to that quote to assert that if my mission is to connect – I gotta get heard as much as I have to listen. Who’s gonna hear me unless they know I’m coming? As an artist it seems imperative that you do things to promote art.
I could take all the songs I’ve written, let them sit and collect on my computer drive or in journals. Avoid getting on stage for fear of failure or rejection. Alternatively I could have faith; conquer fear. Connect. Is being heard something we all want? Maybe, perhaps not. I’ve often grappled with what putting yourself ‘out there’ looks like in action. Self-promotion, branding yourself – performing live and even interacting with audiences while on stage; these are all ways one could ‘honk their own horn’ so to speak.
On the other hand I don’t know how comfortable I am with the notion of ‘honking your own horn’; there is a fine line between self-promotion and even the idea of branding yourself and being narcissistic. Some artists and music lovers alike believe that to sell yourself (or your art/brand etc) is the equivalent of selling your soul. I’m no expert on selling my art or my soul but I do value humility. I believe art speaks for itself yet there’s some conflict; there’s occasional uncertainty of how to stay balanced. I love creating music – I do not love ‘the hustle’; and can’t say I’ve ever been comfortable with networking or managing that aspect of things.
Ultimately I’m still learning just as I am about singing/songwriting/performing; finding that elusive equilibrium. Like the song goes: ‘to everything turn, turn, turn’; I suppose as an artist I believe there’s a time to honk your horn and get people listening to what you want them to hear, and a time to be still and let the creative undertaking be the ultimate objective. A time to let the music speak for itself, even if but only a few ears ever get to hear it. I’ll trust in this process and just enjoy.
What do other artists think?
Whenever I think of my dad, I can’t help but associate him with the rocks on which he lived most of his life. His childhood home was also my childhood home, and these days I guess I am very drawn to them rocks once again. Dad is gone, but I need only return there to those rocks and climb around a little, like I did when I was just a kid and find comfort. Those boulders are nice and private, so I can climb, sit, think, sing out loud or search without a soul around to see or hear me. Everything is just peaceful and calming on those rocks. A person can stop. Breathe. Take it in and let it out. And like I said, its as if he’s there somehow; no denying.
I have started rock hunting on these visits because I’m on a mission so to speak. I search for rocks that I can put in my garden back home. Not just any rocks I guess, because as we know there are a lot to choose from up in these parts and that leaves things wide open. I gather rocks that are small enough that I can carry but big enough and ‘special’ enough, in say, colour or texture that I just know them when I see them. I bring them home and place them just so in my garden, around my flowers and tree stumps. Not only do they ‘dress’ it up a bit but they are peaceful to look at and I think of dad – so its just a win-win situation. Makes the search funner. I’ve got cool rocks at this point. Not gonna go overboard. though!!!!
Yesterday was the celebration of life for our dad; it was a small but loving gathering. I’m sitting here trying to think of the next thing to say; there are a million things I want to, yet words don’t come easy.
Thank you to everyone who came out; dad’s neighbours and closest friends. His little home holds so much love; it did back in my childhood and it sure existed yesterday. I could feel all your love for him. Music was playing and people were together.
Thank you to my family; I love you.
I miss you dad. In so many many ways…. I sat out on the rocks for a long time; flashback to summers circa 1987 when I floated and hopped around those very rocks with the assurance that you were right back up at home. Inside or more than likely tinkering in the garage on one of your projects, radio on and a brewskie…. Memories. I sure wish I could hold you today… but I know where to go when I need to be wrapped in you. I found a place where I can go when I’ll want to be with you. And I’ll need it . I’ll always be proud of you.