“Hey. You look really pretty today. There’s something different about you,” she said to me. She was right. I had a vibrancy and energy that I hadn’t felt in ages. For some years, I had set myself aside almost entirely. For some years, I had sacrificed myself constantly – day and night. For some years, I had aged more than my digits. But not that day, nor for several days prior. That day, I indulged – just a little, and not at the expense of anyone else – in a small secret that I had stumbled upon by mistake.
Like digging up lost, forgotten treasures from a grave – my own grave of a former life, long dead – I pulled from my old, buried bones a trinket of the past. It was the memory of my love for music. I’m not sure what started it, really. For what felt like an eternity, my house was silent to make room for all the noise of children. Forgetting the songs of my heart, my voice went still. And then one day, for no obvious reason at all, music stirred up again, swelling in my heart, and spilling from my throat. With it came cheer, joy, light, vibrancy, energy, smirks, laughter, youth.
She was right. I was younger, brighter, and – in my own self description from back then – colorfully flamboyant. It took me some intense thought to figure out what the difference was. I’m pretty sure the difference is music. This is a new thing that I’ve discovered about myself: that music is life to me, makes me a bit younger. And after some soul searching, I’ve decided that while it’s a little bit of both, it’s more that the music is the cause than it is the symptom – music brought the life, rather than the life bringing music.
I love music. I really do.
I had a dream last night that I was laboriously trudging through the heavy snow and quarreling with an indistinct woman. I believe the woman was no one in particular; the dream’s point with her was that she and I did not get along. But together we pulled our gear through the snow, pulling through and up to the inn at the foot of the mountain. We were at the foot of Mount Monadnock, and facing a decision: seek the comfort of the inn, or make the arduous journey to the top. It wasn’t entirely necessary for us to go there, and doing so was dangerous; we would have to survive several days in the harshest winter weather – together. It seemed we did have one thing in common: we both had resolved to make it. This was the mountain I was willing to die on; I was determined to survive.
The dream then melted into an odd surreal scene of me chasing my kids around the tavern and Michael playing music.
Funny thing about the real life Mount Monadnock being so daunting: getting to the top is less of a mountain climb and more of a hill hike. I once climbed it when I was a child. It takes several hours, not several days. Then again, perhaps in the thick New England snowfall, it would take that long. I don’t know. In any case, I recommend looking up Mount Monadnock online. The pictures do not give it the proper scope, but it sure is beautiful.
Today, here I am. I seem to have found myself at the foot of my mountain that I would be willing to die on, and I’m pacing at the foot muttering, “I’m not a climber. I’m not a climber. I’m not a climber.”
“This isn’t what I wanted, you know. This life that I ended up with. I mean, I kind of assumed that it would be like this, but it certainly wasn’t what I was sitting around daydreaming about,” she said just after taking a drag from the one indulgence she allowed herself and watching its smoke drift upward into the cool night air.
“What did you want, then?” he asked.
“You. Just you. Except without the stigmas, the judgements, or the complexities. I wanted you, but I wanted it to be simple.”
His heart quickened slightly with both pleasure and pain, not only because it stroked his moderate ego, but because it was exactly what he has always wanted too. They both knew that their “if only” will always remain just that. If only.
I’m fairly convinced that I was a sailor in a recent past life*. Or maybe I was married to a sailor and lived in the harbor, oft looking out to sea, waiting for my love’s return and never finding it; that one seems more likely. In any case, I love buoy bells – their rhythmic gong resonates into the depths of my being, soothing my heart, and reminding me of home. I even love anything that reminds me of buoy bells – the clang of a chain on the neighbor’s gate on breezy days, or the hushed gong of the clapper nudging just that one column on the large wind chimes my mom gave me. And I’m telling you, my heart is somewhere out there in that lake. When I stand at the water’s edge, I can almost feel it settling into my chest where it belongs. I feel like I’ll see it on the horizon at any moment.
Then again, I detest beach/seaside themed home decor. So maybe not.
I’m equally convinced that in a much, much more distant life, I was a warrior in either Japan or China – somewhere in a forested, mountainous area. I had a wife, kids, and a small restaurant. I toy with this notion based on dreams that I would have. I’m not all that into anime, and came up with it long before watching anime.
*I don’t actually believe in either reincarnation or preexistence. At all. I’m using it as an expressive figure of speech and a means to play around with imagination.
(Spoiler alert for Pixar’s Brave)
Although I generally have a mild distaste for fanfic, I do sometimes like to pretend that certain imaginations of my own are, in fact, part of a story’s canon. And I mean, really, who doesn’t do that?!
MULAN: This one is not my own, but I still like it. Since Disney offers no explanation – official or unofficial – for why The Great Stone Dragon didn’t wake up when Mushu rang the gong, it’s up to the fans on the internet to decide what makes the most sense. Of these, my personal favorite is that Mulan herself is The Great Stone Dragon already set in place to save the Fa family. Her spirit had already woken within her when she was sitting under the Dragon’s statue just before she made the decision to leave.
BRAVE: Although the film ends with Merida single and her suitors free to “win her heart before they win her hand,” she still has to pick between one of the three suitors that were presented to her. As a little refresher: MacIntosh is the handsome ass, MacGuffin is the burly shy lad who speaks only Doric, and Dingwall is the scrawny “wee lamb.” I like to pretend that Merida and MacGuffin initially take interest in each other, but her fiery spirit is too much for him and he can’t stand her. She eventually ends up with Dingwall because they find a mutual love for nature and adventuring (as could be drawn from the extra short film about Mordu) and his calm demeanor is a steady rock against the tempest of Merida’s emotions. And as it turns out, he actually is an OK archer (as is briefly shown in the scene in which the clans are scrapping and Merida strolls in like she’s the queen and brings them to peace) and I pretend that they bond over her helping him hone these skills. She’s put off by his wimpy build, but eventually grows beyond that and learns to appreciate him for his endearing qualities. It was after I made this extra storyline up that I learned that there is unofficial word from Pixar on what her choice would be. According to MacGuffin’s voice actor, she was going to announce MacGuffin as her choice until her mom signaled her to “break tradition.” MacGuffin was supposedly interested in her as well. There’s also a deleted scene in which she’s interested in him, but gets frustrated that she can’t understand him.
There are a lot of articles out there about what to expect when raising your children. They talk about the bitter, the sweet, and the salty, giving advice to the generation that is now loaded with young parents – my generation. But all of this advice is almost always just an excuse for one parent – who happens to be a published writer – to chew over their own days of yore and talk about their own time with their little one now grown.
I do take a rather sentimental interest in those cheesy articles – comfort food for a mom’s heart. I find that I’m especially interested in the ones written by mothers about their daughters (as opposed to their sons). I don’t know why this is, considering that I have spawned both genders and take equal interest in each of them. Maybe it’s because I myself am female. Whatever the reason, it’s true.
Here’s the thing (and the point of this post): these articles are written through the lens of the reader as the mother thinking about her daughter. And as a parent, you often think about how “one of these days, you’ll understand!” But will they? Or will they simply have their own children with which they have their own sentiments, never really imagining how their own mother felt about them? I wonder how often the reader sees the article through the lens of themselves as the daughter, recognizing and appreciating the previously unnoticed background work, thoughts, and feelings of their own mothers toward themselves.
Mom, since I know that you’re one of my five(ish) readers, I’ll let you know here that I think of you a lot – both as I read mushy articles about parenting and as I raise my own daughter. I understand a lot more now. I do appreciate it. Thanks.
When we were in elementary school, we learned about Thomas Edison and the light bulb. That was pretty cool.
Then as adults – probably thanks to the internet – we learned that Thomas Edison was a big jerk, thief, and con artist. We then learn to admonish the exploited genius Nikola Tesla. Oh how Edison ripped him off for the practicality of the modern light bulb!
Or did he? I got to wondering about this myself as I summoned light with the flick of my forefinger. It started as, “Even if Tesla invented it, could he have sold it? Popularized it? Delivered it to the world?” It then quickly evolved into, “What did Edison steal from Tesla? When? What happened, exactly? In exactly what way did he steal from him? Even if he did, how exactly did he prevent Tesla from succeeding?” Side note: I’m learning that the minute you ask specific questions about the details of notions – especially emotionally charged notions, they are most frequently dispelled entirely. Ask questions. Always ask for details to tales and you’ll quickly learn just how tall they are.
So you then learn to poke around for the details. You find things like this article: http://geekhistory.com/content/nikola-tesla-versus-thomas-edison-and-search-truth and others like it.
Anyway, the short answer is: he didn’t. Edison didn’t steal the light bulb (or likely anything else) from Tesla, and Tesla was still an extremely successful inventor. Not only that, but Tesla himself was a big jerk and con artist.
In the end, here in this world of jerks and con artists, I’m just glad to have easy access to electricity at all.