Well, Love's Freeway hit a new milestone this month, taking to the TV waves. I was invited by AHAh! host Michael Koran--thank you, Michael!--to come share about Love's Freeway at CCTV Studios, and it was great fun indeed. We covered a lot of ground in 27 minutes, from love, abuse, cancer and Reiki, to trash, earthquakes, x-rated photographs, and ducks! We very bravely (smile) even opened up the phone lines on the show, which enriched the program tremendously: thank you, Lloyd! Have a look, if you like. And it's not too late to participate: you can certainly write in with your comments or questions, if you have any.Enjoy the show!
What Ever Happened to Cindi Lauper?
I'd kind of forgotten about Cindi Lauper. There was "All Through the Night" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time," and other hits, but these were all I ever knew of her, and she'd pretty much fallen off my radar until the other night. Thanks to a rather disturbing film I might've been better served to turn off rather than watch through to the end credits, I found Lauper's "Hymn to Love"--a haunting ballad that I wanted to hear again.
Google led me to YouTube where I could do just that, straight through, first note to last. I listened, and then I listened again--and again. I'll leave out the sobbing part: that's a personal matter. Suffice it to say, I was hooked by it, and curiosity led me to I follow a couple of other links on the page. An Ellen something performed it to a piano accompaniment, and there was Edith Piaf, of course, singing her famed "Hymne a l'Amour" with a passion, in both French and English. But none of these moved me like Lauper's rendering, which I listened to probably 20 times in the subsequent 20 hours.What it is about hers that reached in and touched me so deeply I don't know for certain. But I'll say it is a gift--that Lauper is gifted, the way Eva Cassidy was gifted: any song in that woman's mouth was recreated, reborn in her singing of it. It's one thing to sing a song--even to interpret a song or a piece of music; it is another to embody, to inhabit it.One thing led to another, as the convenience of the world wide web would have it, and before long I was viewing video of Cindi live, performing--I should say belting out-- "All Through the Night." Even in that little four- by three-inch window on my computer screen, and with my nothing-special, treble-heavy resident speakers, her power was well evident: she was Wow. What a presence, what a conviction, what a range, what a mastery! I saw slight remnants of the Lauper of the punk days, but I might as well have been encountering her for the first time. The little I knew of her then was her hits, her radical and colorful hair and 'get ups', and yes, her distinctive voice. I liked her songs, and I always enjoy listening to them on the radio, but they never stopped me in my tracks like this one has, turning my vague and momentary wondering, "What ever happened to Cindi Lauper?" to a burning question. That led me to Wikipedia to "read all about it."
Assuming that all I read on Wiki was true, hers is quite a story. Not a wildly extraordinary story; kind of an average life story, actually. But that's just why I say "quite." Anyway, there is no ordinary life story, right? In any case, hers turned out, if not a superstar, certainly an icon. You can read it for yourself, but here are some of the headlines:
--NY (Queens) born--high school dropout
--early leanings toward music--bands
--four-octave range (!)
--vocal chord injury
--'You'll never sing again'
--Grammys and Emmys
--new album, spring 2010!However iconic, Lauper's not the household name that Madonna has become. Why that is, I don't know. But I do know this: watching and listening to her music--as with Jane Siberry's and Eva Cassidy's-- moves me down deep in a way that Madonna's, say--much as I enjoy it--does not. Who can explain this? Madonna certainly has talents of her own. But whatever this "it" is that Lauper, for example, has (in my estimation), it seems to me a gift, this capacity to embody music, to reinvent it , as Cassidy did, and it occurs for me as extraordinary, inspiring, and a privilege to encounter. To experience this live is, for me, to be lifted up--raised up. I feel I am in the presence of Being, on purpose--that is, witness to one who is being exactly on purpose, or in other words, one who has found her place and is completely, wholeheartedly inhabiting it. I find this profound. It leaves me in quiet awe when I encounter it. And I am deeply grateful to each and every one who achieves this and, by demonstration, inspires countless other to do the same.Thankfully, such embodiment cannot be faked: true, rooted, flesh-and-bone, body-mind/spirit authenticity rings...well, true. It is one of Life's unspoiled and reliable gifts, always ready for the taking.
One of the first sounds I heard when I moved to the house where I am now living was wind--or so I'd thought. The breathy whhhhhhhhh I'd heard wasn't wind, exactly. It was the sound of wind rushing through the needles of a stately white pine that marks the north corner of the house. I was probably out hanging the wash to dry on the back lines when the thought first struck me that wind is silent. Wind needs something to rub against to make a sound.
I've grown intimate with the sound of wind through pine needles and the scent of pine pitch over sixteen years of living here. I loved these from the start and am no less enchanted by them now, or by this tree's periodic gifts of cones and boughs. Yet today, I heard something more in its whispering. Love is like that, I thought: invisible but for what it traverses.
It's no wonder we get confused sometimes and mistake the what for the Love. Wind needs objects to make sound. Love needs the same. It needs vessels, situations, manifestations-- something to "rub against." It rubs against you, my beloved, and I say "I love you." Love rubs against me and you say you love me. But that is forgetting that Love has no scent or taste or sound. Love rises as us. Love rises in us. But not for something or someone. The flute shapes the wind and makes music. But where is the flute without wind?Hafiz and Rumi--you two refined and precious flutes for Love's wind: I understand you now more than ever. I see wind thanks to the pines--and all else that it rubs against. I see Love thanks to the beloved, and all else It rubs against. My beloved is a gift of Love just as the whhhhhhh and the fragrance and cones of the pine are gifts of wind. I open for my beloved and my beloved opens for me Love's gilded, gem-studded castle doors. Thanks to this gift that we are, one to the other, we are allowed to dwell there, to admire Its landscapes, to breathe Its incense, to hear and accompany Its song. Together, we live Love, praise and reveal Love. That is reason enough for devotion.
And "I love you" grows, expands to "I know Love by the grace of you." And there is nothing confused about that.
The Leap in the Heart
No one can tell me today was a winter day. Phooey on the calendar, marking the vernal equinox at two weeks away. I think the Europeans have got it right, marking their changes of season such that the equinox falls at the midpoint between, in this case, winter and summer. It made immediate sense to me when I learned of this, and today is the embodiment of why.Today, the bees are busy in the snowdrops. Snowdrops are small. You wouldn't think there was much to drink in there. But they keep at it--for a good hour now, or more: round and round again, many bees hopping from one flower to the next. The same flower is visited repeatedly by various bees - by the same bee too, for all I know. Can there be more in there? Are they forgetful, going in and coming up dry? No matter, their ritual is a wonder to witness from my spot in the sun beside them.Oh yes, this is a spring day,for sure, and surely this ecstasy of bees dizzied by their passionate reunion with flower is proof of it. As are the flowers themselves, fresh from the earth, and the earth itself, giving way, consenting to the coming forth. It is a collaboration in beginning, renewal, birth. It is sun and cold, water and ice, dark and moonlight all conspiring in this revolution, this overturning of stillness with color, with fragrance, with spark. It is the perpetuation of life: conception, propagation, multiplication. Winter is the ultimate cutting back of all that is living, including me. And this day calls me forth, just like the bees, to hasten to the gardens, to delight in the earliest displays of the procession of splendor. The pale straw of the creeping phlox giving way to sprigs of green. Flutes of tulip leaves shaped to catch the rain when it comes. Beyond the white of the pendant snowdrops expected, the surprise of purple: crocus I had forgotten. Three the first day, then five then eight, and then two tiny clusters of yellow ones join them, with who-knows-what others or how many to follow. And that is the thing about winter here. It is just cold enough and (on a good year) snowy enough and long enough to accomplish a forgetting.My skin greets this sun and warmth, this riotous return of bees and their drinking, with a wonder that is born of forgetting. As if by March I have grown accustomed to, made peace, reckoned with winter and all its accoutrements: cold fingers and high necks; wools and scarves and hats and the fireside thawing of the bones; deep long nights and short, harsh days with winds or temps or ice to brace against. Which is to say it lasts long enough to forget--to forget, I mean, in the skin and bones and tension of muscle--that it ever ceases, that a day like this one comes when all at once there is remembering, there is incredulous, giddy, pince moi je reve! remembering of bare bronzing feet, face, hands, of blues and reds, pinks and white, yellow and greens bursting from the dark, dead, flavorless, all-but colorless earth. And there is a leap in the heart of just the sort the return of a love you took for lost would spark. She is not dead, not gone, but here, stepping fragrant, soft, warm, alight with the promise of what's to come into your open arms. It is just like that, the moment when spring presents herself.And it is then, in my unremarkable and sacred corner of the earth, that spring enters, commences in me a corporeal--fleshly, alongside her earthly--recreation. And once commenced, there is no stopping either one. The sleeper is awake, the yawning and stretching are underway, and the best day of all days is begun.Hello, my love. It is so good to see you again.
dedicated to the memory of Margery Tawn