Thursday, April 12, 2007


I had one of the better talks I have ever had last night. Learning for me requires that I say what is in my heart out loud. I guess that is what is called an “auditory learning style.” It might explain why music has been such a key ingredient in my life. I used to prepare for the most intense history seminar classes by listening to whatever band was giving me the juice at the moment. I would hurl my thoughts into the sound and from this some sort of neo-verbal essence a central and usually quite powerful synthesis of my ideas and emotions would coalesce. I was a demon in those classes. I could tear anything apart that wasn’t tightly and rigorously built. But I digress.

The other night I was talking with my sister. She and I discussed the implications of owning the same internal architecture of personal vexation that seems to animate all three of us siblings. Somewhere in our upbringing we assembled a toolbox of odd shaped assumptions about our place in the world. I am not knocking the specialized implements that we own and ironically enough can’t quite seem to master. Around us are people, good people, who have benefited from our machinations. I won’t go touting our successes or spinning our failures. We’ve done OK except that we have accepted too many backhanded compliments from the mouths of others. “I can’t believe they are your kids” says the judge of my character. The fools that my sis and I are when we hear such things we put down our tools and let the elements add their rust.

As the words spun out of my maw and they turned from experimentations to analysis, my sister’s eyes filled with tears and she could not speak. Writing for me works if I can hear my voice and so talking is writing when it is done at its zenith of rhythm and lexicon. I found myself saying things that I had forgotten I knew. I asked why she couldn’t answer me, what had I said that so wounded? “You hit the nail on the head.” I was speaking of dreams and it occurred to me that I no longer can identify those moments when the sounds are from my own creative spirit. Still, I can hear those wishes echo when my words are right and somebody will listen to me for a generous spell. And as more words and tears spilled out of the two of us I heard myself giving chase to the fleeting vibrations and knowing that their direction was clear. I can no longer afford the compromise of an experience where my music is played only in the hearts and lives of those who love me yet hear not with my ears. I want to be in the front row as the songs are played. Gently I go forward to hear what I must.

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