Forgiveness and other “Songlines” for 2015

I feel overwhelmed. Often. As a person who loves new information and learning, there has never been a time where information and opportunities to learn have been more accessible. This morning alone, searching through my twitter feed, I saw at least 10 Ted Talks that look amazing! That’s not counting any of the other posts I see that look intriguing to explore. Add to that the SENG Webinars, the short courses at Schumacher College and the new offerings from Coursera…Wow! Time to set some goals, make a plan, resolve to…

Did I mention that I get overwhelmed? Often? So I put away the iPad and snuck down into my basement studio where I am working on a song. It’s about forgiveness and entitled “Still Somewhere To Go”. Songwriting is ESSENTIAL practice for me. It’s not about writing a hit song or even whether people like them or not. (Though there is some joy in finding resonance with others!) It’s about tapping into and creating songlines to navigate my way through the familiar, yet “cluttered” places I find myself in. (I have borrowed the word/idea of “songlines” from an indigenous Australian tradition. Please read about how indigenous Australians use music to mark geography…it’s quite fascinating.) Songwriting guides me and I feel as exhilarated as I imagine all cartographers must as I map out where all the thoughts and ideas in my head are taking me.

So why a song about forgiveness as 2015 looms? Many students and friends have told me that of all the virtues, this is the one that is the most difficult. My own experiences are mixed…sometimes it comes easy, sometimes it takes time but to date, for the most part, I have been able to get there and I say that with gratitude; I have been fortunate in the degree of the grievances I have experienced.

But in the past few months I have realized that as an idealist, there are many things that I have not been able to forgive that can make things difficult. Rene Descartes for the fragmentarity of scientific method and its impact in application. Sacred texts for their endless interpretability. Systems and their impossible task of defining themselves in a changing world. Entrepreneurial evangelical-like changemakers who believe they have found the key to… The inability of words to adequately express complexity. In essence, all the things that take me away from seeing the beauty in all the things as they are. We are all in the process of becoming. Being angry or discouraged by the things (or people) that are not as we believe they should be isn’t really helpful. Seeing them as part of or in the middle of an astonishing journey…can be incredibly agonizing and breathtaking at the same time. Forgiving the “world” for not living up to my expectations- a pretty humbling experience. Yet now I feel less overwhelmed than when I feel it is up to me to constantly “make things happen”. Things are happening. Maybe not always the way I think they should…and that’s why the next song will need to be about humility.

And that is why for me songwriting is essential. It’s not easy to get to the final chorus without finding a bridge to get you there and that can take a lot of contemplation. But once you’ve written the song, you have something to sing when you are back stumbling through a place that you thought you’d already explored.

If I ever finish my song “Still Somewhere To Go” I will try to find a songline for humility. There are many virtues to explore in the journey of becoming. It’s one of the reasons why The Virtues Project has become such an important part of my practice. Another map of sorts, it is connected to many cultural and sacred traditions from around the world and ergo rife with songlines that have been guiding us through many terrains for many years. All the best to you as you journey through 2015!

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