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New Year’s Day 2020

It could be a cruel joke
that the sun keeps coming up
the years keep rolling out
and you and I grow older
withering back to the void
from whence we came

but maybe it’s a generous one
delightful, robust, profound
that we grow and learn and pick it all up
till we shrink, forget, let it all go
and nobody really knows at all
no matter what they know
and peace
at last
as ever
drops
like a bomb from the blue
or the longest-running
loveliest
joke
in the cosmos.

Midnight Clear

A friend e-mailed me yesterday – “Julia! Where’s the family Christmas video?!” And I realized I had only posted it on Facebook and not shared it through my other usual online portals.

I’m so touched and encouraged to hear every year from loved ones who look forward to this. Yes I am unmistakeably an introvert, but the older I get, the more I treasure the presence of others in my life.

So – happy holidays to you and yours! May you be filled with courage and kindness as you step into the new decade. We need you today and always – your voice, your face, your perspective, the passion, joy, challenge, wisdom that only you can bring us.

First snow this morning. Just a dusting, on the first of November. I turned 44 last week. And there are three people I’m holding in prayer right now – something I wouldn’t have believed I’d ever say again only a few years ago.

Also I started doing #songaweek2019 in September, and have skipped one week since then – a radical departure from the all-or-nothing way I previously approached it.

In other words, change. Impermanence. Flow. Autumn. I noticed the light is lower in my kitchen this week. I raked a million leaves yesterday. I have little brown spots creeping into the backs of my hands, new wrinkles on my neck.

The song I wrote this week was partially inspired by the California wildfires, and then I read this article today and felt it could have almost inspired the song if time moved differently. Plus it references one of my all-time favorite reading experiences, The Tale of Genji:

We cherish things, Japan has always known, precisely because they cannot last; it’s their frailty that adds sweetness to their beauty. In the central literary text of the land, The Tale of Genji, the word for “impermanence” is used more than a thousand times, and bright, amorous Prince Genji is said to be “a handsomer man in sorrow than in happiness.” Beauty, the foremost Jungian in Japan has observed, “is completed only if we accept the fact of death.” Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.

Here’s where I’ve been posting new songs recently – https://soundcloud.com/julia-tindall-bloom/tracks. And here I’ll feature one of them, also about impermanence:

 

No Hard Feelings

This is one of those songs I’d categorize as a cautionary tale, a vision of what the wrong thing looks like. I think it’s about apathy, about what we stand to lose when we choose to stop caring. Maybe a nod to T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.”

Except, of course, for the moments I quoted in the second verse – Neil Armstrong’s moon walk, Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech envisioning racial harmony, Woody Guthrie’s song about roaming and rambling freely across the land, Carl Sagan’s poetic musing about our fragile home. These are moments of vision, passion, generosity – moments where people cared.

More of that please.

All we ever were
All we can become
Wrapped up in a moment
Setting with the sun

No hard feelings
It’s as easy as walking away
It’s the kind of simple stupid thing
That people do every day
No hard feelings
They just flow with no effort from me
Down the river of what might have been
Out to the salty sea

Small step for a man
I have a dream
This land is your land
Suspended in a sunbeam

No hard feelings
It’s as easy as walking away
It’s the kind of simple stupid thing
That people do every day
No hard feelings
They just flow with no effort from me
Down the river of what might have been
Out to the salty sea

Beautiful Mundane

I confessed to my husband the other day that I don’t usually like it when he walks in the door at the end of the workday and gives me a kiss. It’s just too mundane, I said. Routine drives me mad, I whined.

Which on further consideration is laughable, because neither of us works full-time and so it’s rarely more than two or three days in a week that he’s even walking in the door at the end of the workday.

Confession is good for the soul. I think I needed to actually hear myself saying those words in order to write this song, and this song has been good for my soul.

A couple allusions/credits – I didn’t come up with “the meaning of life is to live.” It’s one of my all-time favorite quotes. I was sure it was from Leo Tolstoy, but my Google search doesn’t seem to confirm that. The closest I could come to a source was Goodreads citing Eleanor Roosevelt: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” I still think it came from one of those broody Russians I love reading though, Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.

And “tell a better story” is an idea I absorbed from reading Life of Pi.

“Mundane” has its roots in the Latin word “mundus” meaning “world.” It means ordinary, everyday, “of, pertaining to, or typical of this world.” Maybe it is something worth paying attention to, if it’s your world.

If I believed the world had need
Of another sad song
I’d go on like this, go on like this
Till we’re all bored to tears
But I believe the world don’t need
A thing I have to give
And that the meaning of life
Is to live

It’s all right here
Right where nobody’s looking
The beautiful mundane

Remember when, see it again
Tell a better story
The living truth
That changes everything
It was a long time ago
Until we saw the light
And felt the warmth
And held each other close

It’s all right here
Right where nobody’s looking
The beautiful mundane

I still believe in falling leaves
And transient twilight
And shards of broken dreams
The waves of time smooth and reshape

It’s all right here
Right where nobody’s looking
It’s all right here
And you and me’d best be looking
The beautiful mundane

 

 

God in a Foxhole

It’s Good Friday again and I’m totally not feeling it. Or wanting to feel it. I’ve spent years struggling with the centrality of crucifixion in my Christian faith, and I know I’ll continue to. Instead of talking about it, here’s what I’ve got today:

Yes there are atheists in foxholes
And if there’s a god
Then God is there too
Breathing and bleeding
Cowering and killing
And wishing to die
And dying alone
And crying for home
When there is no home
Because bombs broke it up
And there’s no one to go home to anyway
And sometimes not even God believes
In the mud of a foxhole
In the arms of despair
But if god is there
Then God is there 

It’s a bit hard to believe, but here I am posting the very last week’s song for #songaweek2018. Week 52’s suggested theme was “forest” and I did find a way to use it.

I stole a morning from a busy Christmas week schedule (played hooky from two of our numerous extended family events) and wrote this song, which was obviously influenced by the intense week of socializing!

Happy new year to all, and to all a quiet night 😉

I can’t see anything
Not the forest or the trees
just trying to catch my breath
And let it go again
You can’t say anything
That could make me lose my nerve
I’m just going to catch my breath
And let it go again

I’m living
I’m living
I’m living here

False starts and broken hearts
Somehow keep true love alive
You’ve just got to catch your breath
And let it go again

I’m living . . . now

Halfway to the end
think I’ll start again

Now I see everything
All the forest all the trees
just when I catch my breath
I let it go again
You can say anything
still won’t make me lose my nerve
I know how to catch my breath
And let it go again

I’m living . . . here

Each day brings songs to sing
hands to hold and roads to run
Just let me catch my breath
And let it go again

I’m living . . . now