I’m in the shower. That lyric I’ve been waiting for for 2 days hits me right as I’m reaching for the shampoo. Ugh. What to do? I know I’m going to forget it by the time I wrap myself in a towel. Maybe I can document the words with my fingertip in the fog of the door.
I’m in the supermarket pushing my wagon up aisle 9 looking for paper towels…and voila…there it is…that line. That elusive thought. The one that wouldn’t reveal itself when I was poised with a writing implement just an hour ago. Hopefully, by the time I locate my phone at the bottom of my purse, enter my password, and tap the voice memo icon, it won’t have evaporated.
I’m driving. Waze instructs me to get onto the 101 South and I’ve got my left hand on the directional and…eureka…there’s the word. And it soft-rhymes with the word I was trying to rhyme it with. How excellent is that? Later, I’ll remember that the words rhymed. I just won’t remember what the words were.
You must know where I’m going with this: ideas come to me when it’s least convenient. Thing is, my mind is working, churning, when I walk away. When I stop chasing. When I’m on the treadmill. Or in the deep end of the pool. Getting my hair cut. Or my nails done!! Especially when I'm having my nails done. In other words when I’m unavailable. When I'm not hands-free. When I give it a rest. But the thing is it never rests. I may think I’ve given it permission to pause, but I’d be foolish. A creative mind never punches out. It’s always working. And that’s probably a good thing. As long as I’m prepared to catch a butterfly.
Do you know when my mind is working hardest and most productively? When I’m sleeping. Missing pieces have revealed themselves in the middle of the night. Not every night of course. But once in a while they tap me on the shoulder in the haze of a dream. And hopefully, when I open my eyes they will still be there…like someone’s name on the tip of my tongue…one that I can only recall if I relax and not try to force it. And if I can recall it I do so with a smile…because, I’m sure it’s a gift from the Sandman.
Isn’t this the way much of life is? That we receive when we let go of expectation? Not just in songwriting orbits…but well…in love, jobs, hopes, prayers, diets, college acceptances, Bingo.
As soon as I made a decision not to expend any more energy on that high school boy who didn’t love me back—no—he didn’t start loving me back—but I did find other love. And I certainly loved myself more when I finally released him. When I let go, good things happen.
Maybe it’s my mind saying thank you for not holding me so tight…for giving me room to breath…for respecting my independence.
A few days ago as I was driving to the airport to go on a week’s vacation when I started thinking about all of this. I had planned to ‘put it all aside’ for a week—it would still be here when I returned. But then again, I knew it would have it’s way with me especially because I was giving it permission not to. So here it is.
All of this makes me think about a fluorescent poster that hung on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager that said: “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it's yours. If it doesn't, it wasn't...”