"Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason, you sing." - William Stafford
These are the first two lines of the poem (Cutting Loose) which gave me the title for my inspirational memoir, The Way of Being Lost. I've spent the last week buried deep in my third draft. (My editor and I are on the homestretch -- just seven more weeks!)
There's something liberating about putting something into words that you've been afraid to speak or write out loud -- the first time you do it. This past January, when I hit send on the first draft, I felt like I had released years of old stories that had been dragging behind me like old deadweights in my accumulated dust.
By the time, I got to the second draft, I barely felt like I was reading, let alone, (re)writing about myself. So imagine my surprise when this third draft hit me like a tsunami of old feelings. I had set myself the task of diving beneath my own words to measure their truth -- not just for me, but for their usefulness to others. It's been an intense few weeks.
Thank God for #YachtRock.
I discovered XM/Sirius satellite radio's Yacht Rock station two summers ago here in Austin. It was a tough stretch in my life, a real dark night of the soul. So when I could no longer stand the wrestling with my better angel, I would get it the car and blast Yacht Rock -- and suddenly, in the words of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr, "what was cloudy was clear".
On the day of the Summer Solstice a few weeks ago, while driving cross country, the Love channel switched over to its summer incarnation -- and Yacht Rock was back on the air!! All of the songs we all loved in the 1970s -- and then hoped never to hear again. Oh What a Lonely Boy, Cool Change, Timothy. Except that suddenly, they sound unbelievably good again. Not because Looking Glass or America are suddenly on the cutting edge of musical innovation. But because they take us all back to a simpler time.
Time is always simpler in our memories, isn't it? We don't remember the angst that gripped the world during Iran Hostage Crisis; the anger that boiled over in gas lines; or how many people loathed a peanut farmer, who has since proved to be one of the great humanitarians and authentically good human beings of the last century.
Oh no. Instead we remember being in junior high believing "it's not far to Never-Neverland, no reason to pretend, and if the wind is right, you can find the joy of innocence again. Oh the canvas can do miracles. Just you wait and see. Believe me!"
We remember thinking we would grow old with that special someone -- because "no one else can make me feel the colors that you bring. Stay with me while you grow old and we will live each day in springtime."
We wrote the screenplays of our future inspired by such epic life journeys as this: "I've been to Georgia and California, anywhere I could run. Took the hand of a preacher man, and we made love in the sun. But I ran out of places and friendly faces, because I had to be free. I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me."
The reason I love Yacht Rock most is not just because I remember every single lyric that comes on the radio (when I don't have a clue what I ate for dinner last night). Nor is it the fun of harmonizing to Cool Change or Take It Easy with the windows rolled down and the stereo cranked up. It's not even the memory of the younger me who really did believe anything was possible. It's that the sweet nostalgia these songs bring are proof that, no matter how difficult times get -- and I think the whole world agrees that these are some seriously dark and troubling days for our planet -- we human beings fundamentally believe in the power of good. . .our own and that of other people.
Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason, we sing ourselves back to joy, to hope, to love, to life, to faith. We sing ourselves whole.
Or in the words of my beloved Pablo Cruise (who Casey and Timmie and I sang along to -- fake mics and all-- in my basement the entire summer of 1978)"
"But it's all right, once you get past the pain, You'll learn to find your love again. So keep heart open, cuz Love will find a way."