Like most writers, I often struggle to find the right words — words that will say exactly what I mean, exactly what I feel, exactly what I see. I want words that aren’t ordinary. But lacking extraordinary words, I work to arrange my regular words in a way that will cause you, my reader, to pause for a moment.
I’ve often thought music could say what my words fail to express. From personal experience I know music can transform the ordinary into something beyond words. If I were a composer, I believe my soul could find expression. But, alas, I’m not a composer, though listening to music sometimes helps me dig deeper and write more lyrically.
Years ago I met a long-haired guitar player, perhaps fifteen years old. He sat on his living room floor with his back against the wall, quietly strumming, while the rest of us chatted about our shared concerns. I discreetly watched him as he chose his chords thoughtfully and explored the sounds.
Later, when it was just the two of us, I said, “Tell me about your music.” This was our first moment of meeting and I was searching for conversation.
“My music is about my stuff,” he said after a long pause. “I play about my pain — and about my good times, too.” Then he caressed his guitar and they created more music.
I watched and listened for a long time. Perhaps these chords told his relationship with his uncle who was dying in the next room.
“Does it ever happen that the music isn’t enough,” I asked, “that you don’t know enough notes to play what you feel?”
“Yeah,” he said.
“What do you do then — when you don’t have the notes?” I asked.
“I write poetry,” he said. “Words make up for what my music lacks.”
Perhaps it’s the same for all of us. Our medium of expression, whether it be music, words, paint, photography, or thread, is never sufficient for our vision.
But we push on, striving to express what only we know.
Until next Tuesday…