Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Grammy Lessons, Granny's Lesson

On Grammy Sunday reporter (and singer/songwriter) Peter Cooper wrote of Nashville songwriter Jessi Alexander's journey of "giving up" after a string of disappointments and losses including a lost record deal, the death of her mother and a Grammy nomination that was taken away through no fault of her own.

Sitting outside at a San Francisco restaurant, Ms. Alexander says she "gave up."  In Peter's words, "She decided to writer songs every day, to focus on present moments rather than future fictions."  Giving up ultimately brought about a deeper satisfaction than living with the pressure of the music industry machine. And giving up ultimately led to two Grammy nominations this past January for co-writing "I Drive Your Truck" and "Mine Would Be You."

I have at times resisted giving up and at others have given up repeatedly.  In our masculine, doing-oriented, warrior culture, giving up is often seen as weak and being a failure.

This singer/songwriter's "Grammy Lessons" reminded me of my Granny's Lesson. 

My grandmother as I remember her was more quiet then talkative.  Yet for some reason, Granny told me she quit singing late in life and as a result she lost her singing voice.  I don't know the specifics of why she told me this and I don't even recall my age.  What I do distinctly remember is jointly holding the hymnal with her in church as I was the only one singing and I remember Granny's lesson to me as she said,

"If you don't use it, you loose it." 

She said this in relation to her singing voice and it stuck with me.

My grandmother quit singing.  She gave up in a different way. 

Me and Granny around 1980
 Granny's lesson is true for our singing voice as well as the body's muscle mass and our brains ability to remember and think. Gyms are popping up everywhere for the former while the internet is filled with brain-related studies, videos and self-help games all for the purpose of stimulating parts of the brain that help us with memory especially as we age. 

There is a greater truth of which Granny wasn't aware.  She didn't know and I didn't know to tell her that just because she lost it didn't mean she couldn't recover it, her singing voice again.  It may not have been Grammy-worthy but that's not the point.  The point is to sing.
Which is what I did one day a couple of weeks ago.  From out of the blue, I heard myself belting out, "Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong. It doesn't' matter if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear just sing, sing a song." 

I've no idea where this came from but I smiled. I suspect my grandmother was smiling too because this song came from my heart and that's what matters most.

Jessi Alexander found profound beauty upon giving up and and I would add going in.  I suspect this young woman went inside herself in order to ask the hard questions, then listen, really listen to the answers that came on that San Francisco street.

Giving up and going in - both require the ability to be with the tension of asking what it is that I am on the verge of loosing if I don't use it - whatever "it" is.  It may be as simple and profound as loosing the spirit of empathy and kindness by gradually and over time not extending oneself to others.

Whatever 'it' is for you (and it may be more than one thing), the world needs what you are loosing and more importantly you, I suspect need 'it.' 

Personally I am regularly on the verge of loosing my voice, my spirit and imagination and I find it again and again through encounters usually unexpectedly with people, those I know and strangers, and through Nature.

What are you on the verge of loosing through forgetting, not practicing or lack of awareness?

Imagine the Shift of using It again!  
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 19 February 2014

No comments: