I was looking for my black bow tie for a performance I have this weekend. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I throw things away sometimes, but don’t remember throwing away the black or red tie. Why would I have done that? Those can be handy things for the odd gig.
On the way I looked into a box that sits on a high shelf in the closet. I dug through that assorted stuff, which was kind of a mess, and didn’t see the ties. But I saw everything else.
And I suppose because of the space I’m in I started going through it all and looking at things. and I suppose because of the space I’m in I started seeing these things differently than I had before. Old greeting cards from people congratulating me on this and that, most of them either dead or I just don’t see or talk to anymore. Odd photos. Old program sheets from high school piano recitals and college recitals. A few letters people had written to me back in the day when people still did that. Including my mother.
And I suppose because of the space I’m in I ended up throwing away most of what was in there. I don’t need the paper to keep the memories that matter, or the things I am most thankful for. I throw things away sometimes when I don’t feel I need them anymore.
That one letter from my mother. Despite everything, it sounds pretty sincere. She wrote it when I graduated from college. A proud moment for moms, no doubt. She sounds sincere, and I have to choose whether to pour grace over it or not. If I don’t, does that mean I’m still holding on to judgments? Does it mean I have decided not to pretend certain things? How do you know the difference?
I believe her: she was proud of me because of the music. She even admits she wasn’t “always strong and supportive,” but she was a single mom back in the day, when they didn’t have all the social support stuff they do know, for whatever difference that might have made. We’ve never been emotionally or affectionately close, and that’s the leftovers of it. But, if nothing else, it was always the music that held us together in any way, and made her proud.
I decided to hold on to that letter, I guess because of the space I’m in.
And discovered some old music, and all the old vellum music manuscript paper I never used, still in perfect condition, which I must do something with…even if it’s just to put in some museum so people can look at how things were done before we had the internet and digital technology that both blessed and fucked up our lives.
I threw out most of what was in there. I suppose because of the space I’m in. And now I’m in even a weirder space than I was before. I’m moving through a time when I’m thinking about what my spirituality is, and what a spirituality of music really means. And I’ve learned a hell of a lot about letting go. Letting go of anxiety, bad memories, bad head-talk, negativity, judgment, obsessiveness. Letting go of things I can’t control. One of them being whether anyone reads this, or whether it matters because I’m certainly not selling anything (“Life is pain; anyone who says otherwise is selling something” — the Dread Pirate Roberts). And if someone reads it, it doesn’t matter anyway because I’m not selling anything. Not looking at the stats.
I’m just talking out loud because writing is a way for me to do that, and it does something for me. Yeah, sometimes I think maybe I’ve written something that might be helpful or thought-provoking for someone who might read it, but I’m not selling anything, so odds are not.
The space I’m in. No expectations of what is to come. No assumptions, no ambitions – other than making the music. Don’t need to “make a name for myself” or “claim my voice.” I just play music and sing, like I have since the day I was born. That was always enough for me. Just that. The perfect way for me to get through life. And maybe along the way show someone else how to do it who seems like they’re hungry for it, too. I’ll end up counting them on two hands. And that’s okay. Even one is a trip.
I haven’t found the black bow tie, so I guess I gave it to Goodwill or something. I sure as shit didn’t throw it in the trash. Guess I’ll have to borrow one for the concert.