Writing 101: A song in my heart

I’ve always loved music. I would venture that I was dancing in the womb, pushing my twin David as I shook my booty in some way. Music and books have always been my solace, my quiet place to go when all is well or not so great. Even now, as I’m typing this, William McDowell’s “In” is on repeat in my ear.

As far back as I can remember, there has always been music and books in my house. As a matter of fact, a sort of urban legend has circulated throughout the years, that my mother and an older brother started a popular dance back in the day. There may be some truth to it as there was a period when he was a part of a dance troupe for a local television station. I grew up on Sunday mornings of Jim Reeves marathons, Bob Marley in the afternoon as we prepare chicken, rice and peas with assorted vegetables for dinner. Later in the night, it would be the sultry sounds of Luther Vandross or Mr Dennis “Emmanuel” Brown as we munch on ice-cream and bread pudding for supper.

Suffice it to say, this challenge is a little difficult for me because I doubt I can say there has only been three important songs in my life. I think there has been periods in my life when some popular artists or songs of the time may have been more applicable than others. Case in point – Michael Jackson. Which child (or adult) didn’t or doesn’t love Michael?

“If music be the food of love, play on”

During my teenage years, as crushes grew in concert with spurts of self-discovery, appreciation and insecurities, Michael’s “Lady in my life” and “I can’t help it” (from the Thriller and Off the Wall albums) became my mantra. I was very precocious, as being the last girl in a family of five girls and two boys, provided me with several opportunities to read my sisters’ romantic novels and develop a deep appreciation for romantic meanderings. I’d imagine myself being taken captive by a mysterious, dark and ruggedly handsome Arab prince. He’d shun all others offered to him once he laid eyes on me. I still have that penchant for the dramatic love story (my own!) though I’m still waiting, several decades later, to be swept off my feet. He just has to be a prince, in my eyes, and I’m not particular to him being Arab.

As it is with my culture, religion is an integral part of our socialization. You grow up with some knowledge of Christian beliefs and practices, which is passed on generationally through the church (the mandatory Sunday school) or through the home and school. Its influence permeates everything we do and informs a significant portion of our artistic expressions. There is a song that I learned years ago which goes,

” He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the Moon and the Stars, the Sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be, ‘Cause He’s still working on me!”

It reminds me to be patient with myself as I attempt to confront my imperfections and become a better person.

Currently, the song on my heart is Vashawn Mitchell’s “Turning Around for me”. It speaks to a desire for the things that I yearn for to come to fruition. That I turn away from unrealized passions and dreams and walk towards fulfilment. I’m at a place where I want more. I need more. And I’m unwilling to accept where I am and settle into mediocrity. “Turning around for me” reminds me to be patient, that there is a sum of experiences and steps that must be taken in order for me to get where I’m going. It tells me that change is coming, just hold on a little while longer.

The thing is, Patience has never been a virtue of mine.

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