Month: January 2012

Going My Own Way…

As an adult, I have come to realize that my penchant for eighties music is not well understood or accepted by my contemporaries.  The quiet, steadfast, soul-moving comfort I receive from listening to these songs I first heard as a child brings me to a fullness that I rarely receive from music today.  I have wondered if perhaps it was because my innocent state of mind did not attach an emotional tag to them other than pure enjoyment.

I have a clear memory of watching a Fleetwood Mac special on television when I was about eleven years old.  I was so comfortably familiar with many of their songs simply by osmosis, but was never aware of the particulars of the band’s evolution.  What initially began as an interesting program became the basis of two organic concepts forming in my thought process-two building blocks that I have related many experiences to in order to make sense of my own developing world .  In watching Mick Fleetwood play the drums, I felt that I could sense the essence of exhilaration.  I remember my amazement at how he was able to integrate everything inside his body through his hands, and can clearly recall the thought “he loves what he is doing”.  The product was powerful.  A veritable assortment of jumbled feelings, thoughts and emotions meshed into one uniform artistic element channelled through the coordination of his hands.  His performance was so fluid and made such exquisite sense.  In my brief observation, I understood what it meant to “know” something like it was a part of your body.  I yearned to engage in what it was that moved me beyond description.

I was just as enraptured by Stevie Nicks.  Idolizing favourites such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, I was accustomed to the “punk-tough-sexual” image of women singers of my time.  This woman embodied my ideation of what “woman” meant.  Unassuming and quietly powerful…it was not her voice that drew me in but the mechanism through which she presented and interpreted the music.  She appeared to me to be a medium for all of the individual members of the band, and was the physical outpouring of all of the creativity and emotion.  She did not fit within the context of familiar “pop stars”…cookie cutter singers who had a snappy beat and mechanical output.

Her movements were purposeful and feminine.  She was intertwined in the lyrics and it seemed like the melody was pulling the story from her and she was giving it willingly.  Her face was classically beautiful yet had a quality of timidness and reserve…that she was unaware of her own beauty.  Could this woman who exuded such presence and individuality not be anything but utterly grounded in self-assuredness?  Something whispered vulnerability about her.  Something in my pre-teen self-conscious psyche identified with Stevie Nicks in that moment.

I was moved by her surrender to her craft and this called forth my desire to replicate this passion in my own life.  Her individuality was not contrived or produced but a voracious out flowing of her innermost spirit.  Her authenticity was mesmerizing.

It was not until recently that I am able to put words to that moment years ago.  As an adult, I was fortunate enough to have the experience of seeing her in concert.  In witnessing this inexplicable event, I vividly remembered that evening sitting on my parent’s velour floral couch in my flannel pyjamas.  I remembered that young self-conscious girl struggling to fight my identity…desperately wanting to morph into something other than what was.  Duelling with the inevitable…ignorantly pushing down the potential that was growing inside me because I felt it did not fit with what was “cool”.

Accompanying that memory was the uncomfortable realization that I had not honoured my own quest for passion.  In a strange repetition of events, I was that self-conscious girl categorizing myself into what I thought my external reference points needed.  I had turned down the volume on my inner voice and travelled the safe road.  I do not regret my decision to become a registered nurse.  My life has been enriched infinitely by my experiences and interactions.  Writing, though, has pulled at my heart strings since I was able to first put pencil to paper.  It makes my brain race and my soul relish in creativity.  The pull is too strong to ignore, and I have come full circle with the knowledge that this is one call that must be answered.

No, there are no instruction manuals to how to go about the business of living.  I do believe though that there are instrumental moments of absorption that appear in all of our lives.  I also believe that many of these pivotal experiences occur in a way that we are only able to understand and integrate later in our journey, when we are ready.  Stevie Nicks unknowingly slid a little permission to me in that moment twenty five years ago.  In that serendipitous moment I laid the groundwork for one of life’s most integral lessons.  From that grew an admiration and voracity for the gracefulness that comes when you make peace with self-awareness and the ability to rest comfortably in your own being.

Preachers Playing Poker…

I’m pretty sure I’m getting older.  I know this because I am starting to become ruffled by things that “go against the grain”.  I don’t identify myself as a religious individual, however I do take the time to feed my spiritual side.  Growing up Catholic, rules were pretty hard and fast; things were black and white and it was pretty easy to determine right from wrong.  From this, I think I cultivated a very rigid way of viewing many aspects of life.  Recently, I have become more keenly aware of this and am attempting to consciously look at things from more than one side of the fence.  Which brings me to my point…

Flipping through the channels last week, we stopped at a poker program.  I dabble in the sport (and it IS a sport so don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise). I have found that the game stokes my wildly competitive side and encourages a new level of focus for me that I haven’t experienced in years.  My husband taught me to play-I discovered poker at the same time I discovered him (coincidence…I think not).  So as we were watching the program, they introduced a novice player who was to play a poker pro for cash winnings.  I am startled to see the novice player comes to the table and is in full priest attire-collar and all.  He announces he is playing with the intent to give the money to his church.  I immediately try to recall my days in Sunday school and am quite sure that gambling is frowned upon by the Catholic church (even if the winnings are going to a charitable cause).  In fact…it might even be a…ahem…a sin.  At any rate, I am utterly shocked by this and begin to watch the game much like I would watch a horror film-mouth gaping and all.

A few minutes into the game, I see that the priest can actually play.  Pan to two members of his congregation (a husband and wife team-the wife who is about to deliver a 20lb child I’m sure) who are there for “moral support”.  WHAT??  Moral support?  He is a priest for Pete’s sake-he’s got the Big Guy on his side.  Besides…do they not see something amiss with this little situation?  I comment to my husband incredulously wondering where on earth this priest learned to play poker…surely it was not in a back closet somewhere as I was imagining.  My husband very matter-of-factly says “priests are people too you know…he has to have something to do in priest school”.  Um…you mean “seminary” right honey?  It was evident to see that my husband did not consider this an oddball situation whatsoever.

I will have to admit that the strangest part of the show came when there was an “all in” moment.  The priest actually pulled a rosary out of his pocket and made a joking remark to the professional about his “in” with the Guy Upstairs.  My heart beat rather quickly as I reverted back to a child-like reverence of God and his almighty powers.  Although I don’t know him personally, I was certain that He would not want his powers used for gambling.  The priest won the game and publicly vowed to renovate his church.  His congregation members cheered in support and all was right with the world.

Except my world.  The weird irony of it all stayed with me for hours afterward.   Priests playing poker.  What next…nuns looking for love on the Bachelorette?  I tried to be open-minded…to somehow make it fit in my head.  It wouldn’t.  Priests are priests and I will always look at them in a certain light (a rather holy, bright light stemming from religious teachings being pounded into my brain from the time I was old enough to know better).  Watching a priest play poker was like watching Mother Theresa on Survivor.  Is nothing sacred?