Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Music Mojo: The Little Things & Something Beautiful

Don't worry, although this post starts out pretty heavy, I get my mojo back by the end of it. I wouldn't leave you in a pensive funk on a Monday, would I? If you ask me, Mondays are made for good music.

Last week in church we sang "O God Our Help in Ages Past." This is a classic hymn; it has been around since the early 1700s. It is often sung at weddings and other celebratory occasions, and I just learned from my dad that it is the official "school hymn" of the boarding school where I grew up. (I did not attend said boarding school--I picked a different one--so I wouldn't have known.) It is indeed a stately-sounding hymn. I can see why it is used at formal occasions.

Yet every time I sing it I get chills. And then I usually cry. I think this is because the hymn makes me feel so small, so corporal, so insignificant and powerless facing the grand passage of time.

After all:

A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.

And, worse:

Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all our years away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.

I stood in church last week, choking out the words to that verse, clutching two of my daughters around their shoulders, begging time to stand still, praying that my time here on earth will not in fact be forgotten too quickly. I couldn't even look at the Gutsy Dad, standing there stoically cradling Bronwen in his arms. Why can't we just be timeless?

Most of you know that this anxiety is not new to me. Several months after Jillson was born I went through a spell where I stayed up crying night after night (the gasping "life is so unfair" kind of crying) because I wouldn't--couldn't--be around forever, that there would come a time when I would be gone and my child's life would go on without me. Is this really the way the universe must operate? I've written about it before. 

For now, though, I am mostly at peace with this notion.

Except for when that hymn comes around and I am humbled by my human-ness. What is it about words and music and being in church that is so much more powerful than just words or just music or just being in church? 

I am glad we don't sing all nine verses that Isaac Watts originally wrote. A little googling revealed to me that there are at least two of the older verses (that are no longer in the Episcopal hymnal) that are even more devastating than the ones we do sing. Thank God for editors.

I know. That's enough of the hymn drama.

If you've been reading The Gutsy Mom for a while then you know that my antidote to overwhelming emotions (to anything, really) is to focus on little, everyday things. Okay, truly, my first defense is to make lists, charts, and schedules. If I can plot the way out on a piece of paper, I'm good to go. But if the problem cannot be solved by a checklist, then I go to the little things. I get out the camera and take pictures. I look through a scrapbook. I count my blessings. I revel in teeny, tiny, good things. 

Small joys, added up, equal great happiness.

This little ditty, literally called "The Little Things," came my way via Pandora one night while I was making dinner. The artist is Carlos Bertonatti. Like the hymn above, this song references the way water flows, unstoppable, from one place to another. But he's so damn cheery about it I'm unable to wallow in my self-centered anxiety. Thank you, Carlos.

Then along came Alexi Murdoch and "Something Beautiful." This is just one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. It seemed "pretty nice" to me at first, but there must be something primal going on in this song, because by the end of my first listen I was in love with it. I think the artist sings the main refrain over and over as if to say "I will sing it until you get it, friend." And he certainly has a lovely accent. (Huge thanks to Lindsey for bringing this beautiful piece of music into my life.)

So there you have it. These tunes may not raise your heartrate as much as my usual Monday picks, but perhaps they will be the cure for whatever ails you anyway.


Mom said...

Amen, Margaret. Thank you for finding all of these words and the music and sending them to me. I am motivated by them, by the little things and by you. Hallelujah! Mom

Vicki said...

I love and miss you for all of your checklists and music knowledge and big heart that makes your cry to think you would ever let your daughters down. Hugs and missing you.