to the musicians

Dear musicians,

You wrote this.

And this.

And still, then, this.

You see, you have made more than music. You have put words in front of me, sounds in front of me, that I turn to when no words seem sufficient. When all has been said, or felt for so long it may as well have been said.

I turn to you, Explosions in the Sky, because you are signaling something more than I cannot understand but I wonder, fear. I turn to you when I’m wearing black running shorts too big for me, lying on my bed with my eyes closed in the face of making some real mistakes with myself, the kind that put you on your bed late on a Sunday as the sun bleeds pink into your room and you cry, not the tears of guilt anymore, but of simpler exhaustion. I play you because I don’t know what else to do.

But somehow you are the answer.

I turn to you, Horse Feathers, for the violin. For the song of the year, for everything you realize as you sing that it feels like you are just beginning to learn. I can hear you echo when the last train pulls out of the station late on a Friday night, and it’s as if the stars themselves caught wind of the Last Waltz and played it back to me, looked down in something like pity or compassion, something like grace or peace or understanding or tenderness, and whisper your music. I listen for you in the night sky.

And somehow the violin plays.

I turn to you, The Civil Wars, because when I watch you singing “Poison and Wine” I think of the day when I am telling my daughter the hard stories about love and I imagine that we’ll sit on a park bench and I’ll play the song, and whisper in her ear that all of this hard is also all that is becoming beautiful, the bass notes to accompany the sweetness of the guitar. I imagine as the song plays, each of us with one earphone, our heads together, that I will tell her that in love aching is a part of the whole, a thing not to be shunned but accepted, embraced. I hold her imaginary self in my heart with you playing in the background.

Somehow this teaches me.

I turn to you, Bon Iver – I turn to Holocene, strangely, to give me my heartbeat back. Because there are the days when I catch my breath at the clarity of the truth, the invitation to do a difficult thing. I turn to Holocene to listen for my closest friends. I turn to Holocene in the middle of the work day when I imagine writing a poem with a line about peeling potatoes, something so ordinary it ought to become beautiful to us, or as I make the same right turn out of the school driveway to go home, or when I sit in astonishment at the words of the Collect in a Sunday liturgy. I turn to Holocene to write and reimagine. I turn to Holocene to allow my heart to beat, even for a moment, to a rhythm I feel inside my bones.

Somehow you play me back to myself.

So, musicians, you who struggle for 10,000 hours, who light candles with your sounds and silences, who make a way for the tongue-tied and trembling, who build songs that carry us forward even as we fight, who play the world, and are played by it –

who, somehow, create out of nothing, something –

I am so grateful. 

I am so blessed. 

I am, entirely, awed. 



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