I’ve been anthologized over the years and it’s always such a thrill when I receive notice that my work is going to be included in a book of collected writings. There’s usually a fairly hefty chunk of time that passes between submission, notification and actual publication, so it’s a surprise and thrill all over again when I finally receive the notice, and yet another surprise and thrill when I at last see the finished product. “Oh yes, THAT,” I think, “Look what I did! I had forgotten. How wonderful!”
It’s the same when I say “yes” to writing lyrics for the composers I work with. I tend to be extremely timely (read: obsessed with a self-imposed deadline of NOW NOW NOW) when I take on a writing project, and usually produce text within a couple of weeks of the composer’s request. Generally, the composer either likes the text as written, or asks if I will make some minor changes, or (having first secured permission) makes minor changes in the text independently during the composition process. Because so much of my work is conducted via the internet (that is, I am not in regular contact or close physical proximity to the composers) I usually have a “set it and forget it” mentality after the proposed lyrics have been accepted. They go back and do their music thing, and I go back and do my writer-drummer-caregiver-witch-minister’s spouse thing.
Ten years ago I wrote an audition text for a composer to a tune he’d had rattling around for a few months. It’s an elegant little text that has oblique yet easily recognizable references to Yule, the Wheel of the Year, and the Christ Child mythos. The composer went on to present the finished piece at a couple of conferences, and it’s since been sung in some American Unitarian Universalist churches. How many? How often? Where, exactly? I don’t know; I rarely hear anything about these compositions once I’ve done my part. The composer becomes the main point of contact.
A few months ago I was surprised to be included in an email about this little piece. Turns out that last Fall an arranger had asked the composer for permission to write a new arrangement of the original tune, which was then presented as part of the Christmas Eve services of her church. I was able to hear a recording of the anthem (again, something I rarely get to do), and thought again, “Oh yes, THAT. Look what they did with what I did! How wonderful!” At present, the arranger is shopping it to a music publishing company.
I suppose there’s a lesson in the idea of saying “yes” to something in some form or fashion and then living into the ramifications of that “yes” as the sequence of events you’ve initiated by your assent begins to unfold. Perhaps a “yes” is like Lorenz’s butterfly effect. Perhaps your “yes” (or “no”, for that matter) sets into motion a whole series of actions that—while they seem tiny or unimportant or unrelated at the time—eventually land you in a place where a wonderful surprise happens.
Within the chaos of Becoming are embedded countless instances of Un-Becoming, a state or action of little tearing downs of self-perceptions as new experiences or data or knowledge comes our way, filters through, and generates some sort of change. Granted, sometimes those tear-downs are not so little—they’re foundation-shaking, instantly life-altering. We know in that moment that our Path has been irrevocably redirected. But what of the tiny tear-downs, the ones that happen 24/7/365, so small as to be almost imperceptible? Not every change is a Tower-level cataclysm. Not every Becoming is the result of an epiphany.
I’m reminded of Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game”. She wrote “And the seasons they go round and round/And the painted ponies go up and down/We’re captive on the carousel of time/We can’t return we can only look behind/From where we came/And go round and round and round/In the circle game.”
Each new interaction—each new pony on my internal carousel–reminds Forgetful Me not to fall into the all-to-easy habit of boxing myself in, of limiting myself, of experiencing myself as only “this” or “that”. The world kaleidoscopes around me on her Path—her Wheel—and I must remind myself not to perch too long on one pony. Not to stay where I’m most comfortable at the moment. I have to be mindful when I dismount (after all, the world is whirling at her own pace, not mine; I’m just caught up in it), but if I am using all of my senses and moving intentionally, I can travel across the Wheel at my own pace and on my own trajectory to mount a different pony—or tiger! Or dragonfly!—and experience the world from that point of view for a while.
Might I stumble and fall? Inevitable. Might I gain a few scratches and bruises along the Path? More than likely. Might it be difficult to synch up with whatever new “pony” I try to ride? Perhaps, at least at first. But even if I am brought to my hands and knees—especially when I am on my hands and knees—the deep rhythms of Earth will help to steady me, will continue to support me as I seek to realign my rhythms with Hers until I can get my feet back under me and rise again. I’m not so much “captive on the carousel of time” as I am eternally partnered with the carousel of Life, in all Her permutations, in a constant state of Becoming and Un-Becoming.
Oh yes, THAT. I had forgotten. How wonderful!