Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Blank Slate

Black board
It's another one of those mornings, more common lately than not, when I have no idea what to write about. Absolutely none. I've chased around the idea of a pressure cooker, reflected on our recent loss of a fellow student, watched my cat sleeping on the shelf next to my desk, and poured a second cup of coffee, all to no avail. I'm as blank as a newly cleaned blackboard.

It happens like that, and when it does, it helps to just write, so that's what I'm doing. About songwriting, John Denver used to say some songs come to you without effort, in an instant, the way most people imagine they do. Others you work on for months, struggling to get the words out. It's a lot more fun when inspiration is flowing like water in the gutters from a he
avy rain but more satisfying when you've had to work at it. I suspect the reason has to do with the process.

Songwriting (and any kind of writing, actually) draws on what's going on inside you. One of the most difficult things about that is deciding how much you want
to reveal. Write a love song, for instance, and people presume you're in love. The truth is, you may not know what you're feeling until it's on paper (or the computer screen). Sometimes, you're just as surprised as the listener.

The introduction to the Star Trek series is part of our common culture: "
Boldly going where no one has gone before." Someone from the Cousteau Society or NASA reminds us now and then the last frontier is either under the ocean's surface or "out there." Days like this make me think it's neither. The darkest, most unknown place of all, is the one within. The mystery that draws us to one another, makes us question, inspires courage, teaches us to love. The mystery we meet every time we meet.


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