The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Eight

 

You might have noticed something important missing from this post.

Go ahead:  look again…  

Not a single photograph in sight.

And there’s a reason for that, because yesterday, I switched off my eyes for a little while, and I just listened.

I curled up in a chair in my living room, and I watched as a friend’s hands tore up and down the black-and-white staircase of his keyboard, which he’d rigged up on the coffee table in front of him.

Last week, he’d asked if I might be interested in laying a few lyrics on top of some of his original compositions, and I said yes.  Yes, of course I might be interested.  (Was he kidding??).

And so, twenty-four-hours ago, I sat spellbound as music filled the house.

Notes raced up the staircase.

Ran riot through the second story.

And I’ll confess:  even with all that magic unfolding right in front of me, at first it was difficult not to watch…  Not to notice the way the light spilled across the keys.  The way the shadows hunched close behind him, as if they, too, were listening.

But after awhile, I closed my eyes.

I let the music erase all the shadow and light, the saturated black-and-white.

Let the notes open up one color after the next:

Like a garden,
opening petals

one
by
one

to a sun
you cannot see…

which shines just the same. 

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The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Nineteen

ukulele2

Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’ve been feeling like December is just … hard.

I don’t have any real emotional reason to feel that way:  no family drama.  No old holiday loss.  If any thing, I’m happy… But I’m also exhausted.  And I’m not just talking about my usual bouts with insomnia.  I’m talking about soul-level exhaustion that I can feel in my body, right down to the muscle and bone…

Too many parties.

Too much food and wine.

Too much sparkle, too much spending, too many colors, too much noise, too much drivingbuyingrushingwrappingtalkingtalkingtalking.

I don’t know … Maybe it’s just me.  

But I suspect not.  

*

Earlier this week, though, I tell T I don’t want to plan anything for this night.  We’ve had a double-booked calendar all week, but tonight … tonight I want nothingness.

So, halfway through our Sunday afternoon, we make a second pot of coffee in the Chemex.

And we laze around for hours and read.

We finish wrapping presents.

 

And I don’t know why, but at some point we dust off our matching ukuleles and decide we’re going to learn “Silent Night.”

*

It was September when T and I first took lessons.  Back then, I remember how awkward my little ukulele felt against my chest, and how hard and sharp the strings felt, biting into the tips of my fingers.  My hands never seemed to want to curl in the correct shapes.

This evening, though, I teach myself the simple chords, and after a few minutes of practice, everything just feels right:  the curved mahogany against my breastbone.  The gentle happy Hawaiian echo in every strum, reverberating through my skeleton.

As I play, I sing the old carol:  Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…

And suddenly I feel that silence… That calm.

The room fills up with quiet even as it’s flooded with music.  

The hurry of the holidays falls away.

I feel the music in my body — in the muscle and in the bone – and I feel — for the briefest little moment –what it means to know heavenly peace. ❤

ukulele1

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The Body Electric

One for the renegades …

I still remember where I was the first time I heard the radio hit Renegades by X Ambassadors:  on the dusty second story of a Staunton antinque mall, where the tune crackled and snarled through an AM/FM radio with a bad connection.

No more than 30 seconds elapsed before I Shazamed it…

I was smitten.

*

I remember the day I first stumbled over the video, too.

For the first 45 seconds, I was confused — what, exactly, was I watching here? — but when I realized what was happening, I wanted to stand up and cheer.

The video features short clips of individuals who most of us would term “disabled” … but all of them are doing remarkable things with their bodies — enjoying them in startlingly inventive ways. The video is a highly personal one for the band, since band member Casey Harris has been blind since childhood.

But really, this is not just a music video about overcoming physical limitations.  At its core, it’s about seeing all limitations as invitations to create and to innovate… To be unapologetically ourselves.

And I love that.

 *

Can I tell you something?  I’m in a place in my life where I really want to live in my body… To inhabit it fully. To do things with it that make me feel alive.

arabesque

And it’s true I’ll never be an Olympic athlete … or a ballerina.  But if I don’t dance in my living room at least once a week, or raise myself into a sloppy arabesque on a fencepost by the side of the road, then I’m accepting a tragic sort of lie… Swallowing it like bad medicine.

You know that old lie:  the one that says, If I can’t be the best, or do it the way other people do it, then I might as well hang up my dancing shoes.

And oh, friends.

That’s not just nonsense…

It’s poison.

*

So.  This little video is dedicated to all of us, in whatever bodies we’re living in, in the hope that we’ll go out and enjoy them wildly and unashamedly today.  That we’ll test all their edges, push all their boundaries and fill up all the little empty spaces within our fragile suits of skin.

Enjoy, fellow renegades … this one goes out to you.

 

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Almost Poetry

Oh, God, if only you might give me the words …

… to speak the song the cicadas are singing —
that murmur and hum filling the trees.
But their song is wholly their own,
and no matter what words I use,
mine would only be a poor copy —
and why bother to copy such a thing,
when anyone can go out on a summer night
and sit spellbound to the sound
of the original?

But oh, God — I beseech you —
we have stopped hearing it.
A thousand nights these voices sing for us,
their words worn-out white noise,
the meaning lost like a long-ago first language,
so that in the song we hear no language at all.
And, oh, God, if you might give me the words,
perhaps I might shake us out of deafness,
so we might stand stunned under the canopy:
silent to it.  Listening.

Oh, teach me to sing it:
a hundred thousand voices
whirling wild in the trees,
filling the green air
with buzzing vibrato,
crying out over and over:
Love me, Love me —
the summer is short,
this life is so brief …
oh, love me while you can —
You!  Yes, you –

while my body can still sing,
still love, and sunlight still
spangles the branches …

Which I guess is the same song
we’re all singing,
after all.

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Simple Gifts

A Completely Random Moment of Creative Connection: Day Thirty-Two

(Sometimes it’s tough to feel at home in your own city.  Which is why I’ve given myself a challenge:  each day, for forty days, I’m going to find *one* thing I love about this place.  And then I’m going to tell you about it.  If you want to follow my journey, start here.  Today is Day Thirty-Two.)

My office sometimes serves as a revolving door for random visitors.  You know, the kind who drop in “just because.”

The “just because,” in our case, is the Office Dog.  Actually, we have seven office dogs (count ’em), all in a daily rotation — a Great Dane, a Siberian Husky, a coonhound, a Saint Bernard, an English Mastiff and two cattle dogs.  Some people might think they’re here to keep us safe, but really, they’re here to make life more fun.

Which they do with flying colors.

(Sidenote:  I work in a pretty cool office.)

Today, one of our Random Visitors was the husband of a woman who works up the hall, and he brought his two children so they could throw the ball for our Office Dog.  While the younger set raided the candy jar at the front desk and stomped on bubble wrap, I fell into conversation with him.  And the next thing I knew, he was telling me about his garage band and asking me if I wanted to hear a song.

“What do you play?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t really play, I–”

“You sing?”

“Mostly I just… growl…  Wanna hear?”

He pulled out his cell phone and put it in my hand.

“This is what we’re working on now,” he said.

In a second, a wild hurricane of sound emerged from the phone — music you might classify as screamo or metalcore, something I’d not normally listen to or even encounter.  And we stood there in the middle of the office in an eye-of-the-storm of flying fur and children as I listened, transfixed, hunched over the phone.  Meanwhile, he sang.  Or “growled.”  Played air-drums.  He reached for the phone again; scrolled through his files. “This one,”  he said.  “This one I’ve been writing for five years.”

And maybe this music wasn’t exactly my style, but it didn’t matter.  I couldn’t stop smiling.

*

Since moving to the Star City, creative community is what I’ve sometimes missed most.

I’ve struggled to find like-minded folks who share my aesthetic, although I’ve met *plenty* of people who are kind and remarkably tolerant of my occasional gushy tirades about Art and Beauty and Mystery.

And I’m realizing:  maybe that struggle was one of my own making.

Because there are creative people everywhere here.

And if their tastes are different than mine — sometimes *radically* different — that might well be the best thing that could happen to me.

*

The wild music shuddered to a stop in my hand.  I passed the phone back to our Random Visitor, and smiled.

“Thank you,”  I said, feeling my smile all the way down in my chest.  “Thank you for sharing the creative part of yourself with me.”

He shrugged, suddenly sheepish.  “No, no.  That’s what I want, you know?  To get it out there.  Share it.”

And I did know.

I do know.

Because that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?  To express what’s inside us however we can.

And maybe that means we take pictures, or paint on canvas, or perform on a stage, or jam out with four friends in a freezing garage, growling and screaming into the mic.

Maybe it’s 1:23 a.m. and I’m still here, banging away at my keyboard.  And in a minute, I’ll send my words out into the dark — not because they’re pretty or profound, but because the greatest gift we’re given is the ability to connect, somehow, with someone else.

Here’s hoping that’s what I’m doing here, in some small way, with you.

 

*

One last thing?  If this resonates at all and you want to connect, I can’t tell you how much I’d love that.  Drop me a line.  I’m at akwilsonfellers at gmail dot com.  

 

 

 

 

 

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