Unwritten

Staring at the blank page before me...
Staring at the blank page before me…

Do you know the feeling when a song you’ve sung along with forever suddenly becomes your new anthem, inspiring and igniting a flame inside? I do, and I have. Often. For as long as I can remember, music has been my favorite “tool” to sift through my emotions, in good times and bad.

Kenny Loggins, “This Is It” was my go-to song during the rough patches in high school as well as my celebratory, and uncertain, senior year. On occasion, Kenny and I still spend time together.

Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” soothed me through more than one angst (read: anger) filled break up in my youth, as did Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” (Thank you, Gloria, for putting to tune the break-up mantra of women everywhere.)

Post college and early in my career, it was U2. Bono, with his beautiful tenor voice, found a place in my heart that made it OK not to have found what I was looking for…not that I even knew what that was in my early 20’s, or late 20’s for that matter. Heck, I’m still figuring it out, which is likely why “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “Streets Have No Name”, and “Running To Stand Still” continue to top my playlist.

For several years, when disease spread through my body and led me in and out of operating rooms, I regularly blared one of two songs as I drove to doctors’ offices: Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus Take The Wheel” or Christina Aguilera’s, “Fighter.” Both songs reminded me I was (and am) stronger than the sum of my parts.

Woven through my life during the last 3+ decades is, of course, “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks. I first heard it on a record player, my brother’s. Then, a cassette played on my boombox, followed by my Sony Walkman as I ran, my mp3 player and most often now, my phone.  Its meaning changes with the stages of my life, as I wrote about when I cursed Budweiser last year.

Over the years, I can’t say I’ve proactively sought out these tunes, the songs that have become bookmarks in my life, but they’ve found me. Always, just when I needed them.

The other day, on the drive home, it happened again. I heard the introductory notes and knew the song in an instant. I turned up the radio. Alone, I sat at the long red light and began to sing along, as I’ve done many times before. But, something was different this time. As the sun gently made its decent behind the Rocky Mountains, the lyrics rose up and washed over me. I stopped singing and focused on the lyrics, not just the words, but their message. Unexpectedly, I heard new meaning in the familiar melody and felt fresh inspiration for this season of my life. The setting sun, the blank page, the words on my lips; it all came together in that moment to place a frame around this transition. I cranked the volume, rolled down the windows, and sang until my lungs might burst. (Sorry, fellow drivers.) In that moment, I embraced the blank page before me and to living with arms wide open; I am the author of my story and no one else can write it.

Sitting there, Natasha Beningfield sang– no spoke– to me, to my heart, and to the blank page before me. My next chapter is still unwritten. Wonderfully unwritten. But, I am picking up my pen to speak the words in my heart because I am not afraid. (OK, maybe just a little, but I’ll turn up the music a little louder.)

Are there any songs you turn to during times of change? Please share below, because I love discovering new music!

(Updated 11/4: So, what should appear in my inbox just two days after I wrote this post, but this writing challenge by The Daily Post at WordPress.com: “Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved by Music.”  For once in my life, I was a day (really, two) early rather than a day late!)

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42 thoughts on “Unwritten”

  1. I also entered the music challenge and now I’m visiting other site to see how various bloggers interpreted the assignment. “Landslide” is one of the most beautiful songs ever written — and it can still bring on tears, no matter how often I’ve heard it. During times of change, I will often turn to my comfort songs — usually from the ’80s. The Clash. Duran Duran. The Human League. I’ll also turn to certain Christmas carols, such as “In The Bleak Midwinter.” I enjoyed your post. Be well.

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  2. I’d never really listened to these lyrics either! LOVE this! I can never remember names of songs or singers, or the lyrics for that matter, but music is definitely an integral part of my life. It’s also the best inspiration for my writing.
    Great post!

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  3. Thanks, TM! I LOVE the song you posted. I’m going to put it on Maycee’s MP3 player. I try to download encouraging songs such as this, and she just loves the pop music (I’m a country bumpkin most of the time). I have many songs, also, that shadow the timeline of my life, but for the past few years since it was released I relate my life and myself to the song “The House That Built me” by Miranda Lambert. I tried to stay away from “home” for a good part of my adult life, and now, I find going home (which is the house I grew up in) to be a refuge where I can unload and seek rest amidst those who truly love me. Thanks for sharing your musical journey thus far…music is a language that connects in ways beyond the spoken or written word because the instruments provide an atmosphere through which we feel. I’m a musician, myself, and my some of my deepest spiritual connections happen when I’m at the piano or strumming the guitar and singing with abandon! XOXO-Kasey

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    1. I hope Maycee loves this song, too! I know my girls do. Like you, if I find an encouraging song, I share it with my girls. Now, they do the same with me.
      “,,,music is a language that connects in ways beyond the spoken or written word because the instruments provide an atmosphere through which we feel. ” Yes, yes, yes!
      What fun it would be to hear you play sometime!

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      1. Yes, Maycee already knew this song, LOL! She listens to the pop station….I’m a country girl most of the time. I downloaded it onto her MP3 player, and we have been listening to it non-stop. She knows every single word, and it’s so cute! I would love to somehow get my music out into the world, but I lack time, money, and probably the energy now to give it a try. If you come to visit the Central Coast of Cali, then serenade you, I will! 🙂

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  4. Songs are really part of our lives. Sometimes we realise it, sometimes we don’t.
    Once in a while, we can tell a song from it’s intro and memories just come flooding our minds.
    In life, we go through seasons and phases. Certain songs are like bookmarks or landmarks that trigger the feelings and memories associated with certain phases.
    Lovely post!

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  5. Mary, so well stated! I just love that song, and can just picture you entertaining the other drivers. The visual made me smile. I now understand why my “reserved” mother was not so reserved when listening to her music; I am my mother’s daughter! 🙂

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  6. Read this in the middle of the night and totally identified. Some days this is the way it is. Listened intently also to the lyrics and now I too am a big fan of Bennefield’s version. Cool beans.

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  7. Proust wrote about madelines, but I think that’s because he didn’t have a radio. Smells can send me into a nostalgic haze, but music carries more weight, from the Jim Croce singalongs of my childhood to drive-and-sing music of the post-college years (hello Carole King, hello James Taylor, hello Joan Armatrading)…I suppose now when I want to get myself going I listen to Michael Franti, whose hippy-dippy-yoga-love-rock-and-roll feels like the blend I need of energy and peace.

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    1. Smells absolutely take me back, too. I still have an empty bottle of my mom’s perfume and just the smallest of whiffs and there she is, with me again. Music, however, allows me to add a timeline to the events in my life. Oh, and I still sing along with James Taylor, often.

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  8. Okay, you and I must be music soul sisters. I’ve written a few posts about the songs that make up the soundtrack to my life because music is so important to me, too. Love this post and because I believe I was Stevie Nicks in a different lifetime, I’m off to read your post about why you cursed Budweiser.

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  9. What a beautiful post…gosh I love your brain. So glad to see you tapping the keyboard once again. Loved all your tunes…especially the last one. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  10. I like the message, can’t say I’m a fan of the video, but yes, music is like a course in philosophy to me! Admittedly, my psyche is stuck in the 70s, but I do like some of the newer folk groups like the Lumineers, Mumford and Sons.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I tend to stay fairly current with music because it means so much to me, but I have such a diverse collection, friends are often surprised. A flashback to the ’70’s would include Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones”–the first song I heard on the small transistor radio I received for Christmas.

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  11. This particular song has a bit of a hold on me, too. Part of it is for the content of the song, and another for when I really heard it. I was just pulling out of the hotel parking lot after one of my work trips to Northern California. Hearing the song filled me with a sense of joy, both at the general and correct (IMO) sentiment and at the thought that I was hearing it in this unbelievable new life. I’d hoped for all kinds of things, most of which seemed grander when I imagined them, but I’d actually written for myself a wonderful new life full of endless possibilities. Just thinking of this song is a time machine back to the moment I turned on that rental car and starting beaming, with a dash of waterworks.

    “The Gambler” will always be a favorite for me. My friends used to tease me for loving it, but then they started singing along to it with me. (Same for “Coward of the County.”) It’s wrapped up in so many sweet memories, so that even though one of the last was singing it over my mom’s newly filled grave . . . it is beautiful. Just beautiful. It is all of life for me.

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  12. Oh, my dear! I love this. I doubt we were listening to the same station the other day but with the way the media outlets are conglomerating these days it may have been the same playlist. 🙂 I love this song and was quite chuffed when it came on while I was in the car the other day. I’m also quite partial to her “Neon Lights”.

    I cannot survive without music. Just about every scrap of paper in my house has lyrics or an artist’s name scribbled on it, all in the hopes of finding a certain song to add to my survival kit. Right now I have a few on regular repeat: Jason Mraz’s “93 Million Miles” is one of them, Richard Page’s “You Are Mine” is another.

    It never ceases to amaze me when I get in the car and the first song that starts playing, whether from a cd of my own making or from the radio, immediately captures my mood and either builds upon it or points me in a better direction. This has started happening to me lately while I’m out shopping as well. Piped in music has certainly evolved, and definitely for the better.

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