Saturday, August 23, 2008

More than Black and White

Sometime over the last few days, something shifted, and almost overnight my view has changed again, reverted to the positive. There isn't anything to which I can attribute this, really. Nothing externally has changed -- still have kids, still have same job, still alone, still in the same goofball Stepford town. I am coming on the second day of a real break from parenting, so maybe my brain is just untangling a bit. I feel I've come 'round and am in the middle of a sort of movement, a shift, an opening. It's a good feeling, although I haven't any idea what it portends, and I'm not going to guess.

Over the last week we've been kind of struggling at work to put ourselves forward and sink our teeth into some new business that we feel has been eluding us. We work and work and put out one proposal after another and have meeting after meeting. Suddenly when my new colleague and I got to thinking about the nonprofit community, I felt my energy shift and commitment return. I even overstayed a bit on Friday though I was looking forward to dinner with my sweet ex SIL and her dad and beau (I made it and we had a great time). I have a real passion for certain kinds of work, and I think, I feel, that it's going to be brought to bear again soon and that some of these conflicts at the office -- me wearing too many official hats -- will iron themselves out.

If you step back and let answers come to you, life can really be boiled down to some pretty simple truths. One of them is that I have this obstinately positive perspective about 90 percent of the time, and that when I forget about the other 10 percent, I am able to really give 100% of myself to whatever it is I'm doing, whatever conversation I'm having, whatever it is I'm engaged in, even if it's just feeling myself breathe and my heart thump as I exercise. I have worries like everyone does, and sometimes I worry over things I can do nothing about. But when I'm able to turn my focus outward again the worries and the burdens start to dissipate.

About a month ago, I answered another colleague's cell phone while she was away from her desk. It was a client of hers for whom she is conducting one very special assignment -- he is quite ill, battling a very rare and ferocious form of cancer, and his successor must be found soon. Some how, in our brief conversation, I evoked from him a deep, hearty laugh, a happy laugh. There is probably nothing I did the rest of that week that held more meaning, at least to me.

When we let go and let life work through us, when we begin to see ourselves not as attached to this job or that promotion or that car or house or this future or that project or that client or that or partner or not having a partner, we can just be. Be everything we are, be completely ourselves. That's what we can do for each other, just be ourselves. When I'm myself, when I follow my instincts and meet people where they are, it's a joyous thing. I restrain myself constantly trying to fit in the mold my Managing Director has set forth, but he knows I'm working against my nature. We are all schooled in this, himself included. When we are working on a problem at the office we are at our best when we quit fighting it and allow the answer come to us.

Yeah, I know, in reality it is much harder than all that, it's true. It's really hard to just be right there in the moment. But I'm trying.

My table is piled high with information from IBMA. This has been a meaningful experience for me, and there is more I could give. Every year I say, "I need to organize a beginning picker's jam" and every year suddenly I'm on the plane to Nashville for the same three days and I haven't done it. It's probably already too late for this year, but, maybe not. Going and connecting with a few friends once a year and seeing my sis and her family for a bit is terrific, but going and really engaging people and creating a music-making and life-growing experience is what I should be doing. I should treat it no differently, no less seriously than my passion for connecting people. It is about connecting people and connecting with people. Otherwise I should just write IBMA a check in the amount of my plane and hotel fare and stay home.

That just ain't right, now, is it?

Maybe another reason I need to do this immersion process is that when I received my final IBMA Ballot, there were all of two bands and one or two instrumentalists from my first two ballots who made the cut. So either, I'm not listening to what everyone else is listening to, or, it's time to really figure out how the same five bands, although tremendously accomplished, keep getting nominated. This tune was from my original slate of nominees for Song of the Year. Such a tune need only "be release or show significant chart action" for the period of eligibility. Well, screw chart action, people. This song is just one great piece of work. I believe it was written by Sonya Isaacs (congrats to Sonya for her nomination in the category, Female Vocalist of the Year) and is performed here beautifully by Cia Cherryholmes and the rest of her Cherryholmes clan. It's sort of a lament, but in some ways though the point of view is represented from the chain gang, the more we look ahead and look to better ourselves through acquiring something down the road or over the fence, the more we are sealing our own chain-gang fate, destined to never experience what is right in front of us, destined to overlook our nature, to take a breath and let our being have a chance to contribute to the richness of our own lives.

I'm going to try not to be my own downfall. I recommend the same to all y'all. My few loyal readers are good human beings, gentle at heart if more than a little frustrated on the surface. How I wish there was a place we could all meet in dreams to commiserate, and wake up better for it. Until then, I'll send this out and remind you that you're all on my heart.

Black and White
Written by Sonya Isaacs, performed by Cherryholmes featuring Ricky Skaggs and Sonya Isaacs


At August 24, 2008 9:21 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Sounds like you are experiencing some perspective, seeing the forest instead of the trees.

"quite fighting and allow the answer to come". I am a believer in that tack too. Sometimes it actually works.

And I agree with "screw chart action," and wish it wasn't such a big factor.

At August 24, 2008 10:30 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Birthday Blue,
Yes, I think it may be a perspective thing, coupled with undercurrents of something else. I'm trying to not think about it and just press on without expectations. Not my greatest strength.

It's too bad awards can't just be based on talent. Then again, you and I both know there are an awful lot of talented people in bluegrass. So I suppose "chart action" is a way to narrow the field. Problem is, the folks who are getting the airtime aren't necessarily the only ones who should be. They've just got time to pimp themselves or have an agency doing that work for them. Otherwise the other 80 percent of folks are on the road and just trying to make a living after expenses and paying venues a piece of the take.

Hope you get your cake and eat it too today!


At August 25, 2008 12:06 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

I had some fun rummage shopping, but the rest of the day was spent pretty much using Adobe Illustrator trying to get that poster done, with one more break visiting the most crowded grocery store I've *ever* seen (back to school is today - kidfree folks forget those things), worse than pre-Thanksgiving even, and another hour watching a Terminator rerun.

At August 25, 2008 7:23 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Terminator?! Oh honey, there's an hour you'll never get back. On the other hand, at least it was an hour lounging about, an activity in which you all too rarely indulge. Kudos!


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