Posts tagged ‘music’

The Heart of Things

by: Rebecca Taylor

**previously published by Perspectives Magazine**

The impulses that I was getting when my owner, Rona Marci first saw the perfect gown in the shop window on 3rd Avenue were something I only feel when I get really wound up. I started going kerthump, kerthump like I was doing somersaults. I’m Rona’s heart and best friends with Rona’s brain. Brain sent word down through the body’s tunnels that the most exquisite gown was in the showcase of Rose’s Emporium. It was flowing and a shadowy crimson colour. That was when my heart started jumping even more. My favourite colour is crimson but I am kind of biased being a heart and all, most shades of red catch my fancy. I just knew that I would look magnificent going out with Rona in a gown like that especially to the CCMA’s where Rona, a keyboardist for an up and coming country duo was going to be co-presenting the award for single of the year. When ever I hear Rona playing the keyboard I get up and start dancing with her muscles. We have a splendid time partying together.

My friends all say that I am very vain and like the finest things in life, that must be why I get so excited living with Rona. She has such an amazing lifestyle. Her clothing choices are always fabulous; I am so jealous of Skin for getting to touch those shimmery fabrics Rona wears and get engulfed in her perfume; her vanilla and orange blossom ones are absolutely heavenly. At least Brain sends me a whiff through the channels which I can savour.

Even though I treasure all of Rona’s finer things, I know that she wouldn’t have any of them without me. After all, it is my job to keep Rona alive. If I got tired and gave up, it wouldn’t matter how hard the rest of Rona worked because it is me who keeps her living. Her brain, other organs, and muscles help keep her up and running but without me they would be nothing. I don’t mind because this makes the rest of Rona’s body love me. They love me for keeping her alive and because of this, they feed me sustenance which keeps us all alive. This makes them nourish me with information about her; tell me secrets and bits of news about what is going on in the outside world. I love doing what I do because I get to be in the thick of everything but that is only fair, after all, I am the heart of everything.

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Songs that Impact Our Lives

by: Rebecca Taylor

Music is powerful and strong just like we all want to be. It has a way of saying what we want to say when we don’t know how. Choosing one song that impacted my life is almost impossible. We have to open ourselves up to the music and the lessons it can teach us. Songs like Blake Shelton’s “Some Beach” reminds us that when we are going through something difficult, to take a minute and envision our special place – our Zen place –  the beach in our minds.  A favourite of mine is “Keepin’ the Faith” by Rick Tippe because it has one of my favourite quotes “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift” by Eleanor Roosevelt and it tells us that even when things can get tough, to keep having faith and great things can happen. Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” is another example of a song that can push us forward in our lives because it demonstrates that life is like a mountain, that you’ve got to keep going, it’s not always going to be easy but that it is just as important for us to embrace our journey in life as it is the goal we are heading for. Some songs catch us because the words or melody are fast/slow depending on the mood we are feeling and we find ourselves singing along, or having our day turned around because of songs like Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” that just seem to made a bad day better. Music is happiness, music is love and despair and every emotion in between. It is the switch that can trigger a mood change or a revelation in our lives. It has a way of helping us through the rough times when we don’t have the words to say we’re hurting or confused. It is a form of medication that doesn’t require a prescription. Music is therapy that can impact us all in different ways. For example, Lonestar’s “Smile,” the heart touching song of someone smiling through the pain of someone leaving their lives so that, that person can be happy with the new life they are beginning. Music has a way of saying it’s okay that you had a life experience and you’re not alone. That’s music’s impact on each of our lives and for this I am grateful.

Violin’s Poem

by: Rebecca Taylor, as told by the violin (short story version of this called A Musical Memory, previously published by Perspectives Magazine)

Under the brightness of the spotlight

My master holds me tight

Her expert hand is on my bow

As we serenade everyone at the show

Together we make music

In the audience is a family hoping to use it

To trigger something deep inside their mother.

Her name is Tori

And her children are very sorry

Because she has Alzheimer’s Disease

I can see her daughter Louise

There is hope in her eyes

Anticipation so deep that I can taste it

She doesn’t want anyone to know that she cries

But I can see everything from this stage.

My owner’s name is Karen

And if you haven’t guessed I am a violin

Handmade from spruce wood

Varnished to preserve me

Hands like silk caress me

And I shake with emotion

And my music flows out to the people watching.

Karen holds me beneath her chin

And I play a love song

A compilation of many from the past

Played with Karen’s touch on me

My voice reaches out to the people watching

And something changes in Tori’s eyes

The velvety melody is reminding her of a memory long lost inside

Later we know that it was of her husband’s sandalwood cologne

And her dancing with him many years ago.

Louise is smiling, sitting beside her mother

As Tori reaches out and takes her hand

Bringing her into this precious moment of recollection.

I can feel the beat of Karen’s heart change

She must have seen too

I can feel her pride, at achieving her goal

Together we are giving this family a glimmer of hope.

Same Kind of Broken

Professor Orefield hands me a pamphlet. “And here’s the guidelines for your volunteer project.”

“Volunteer?” I find myself shaking my head. I’ve never liked volunteering. “I don’t have time for that.”

“I’ve heard that one before.” My academic advisor grins at me, almost in a mischievous smirking sort of way. “I’d be happy to recommend an organization. This city is teaming with places that need your help.”

I hesitantly take the paper from his hand and sigh. “What if I choose not to do it?”

He gave me a sad shake of the head. “It’s a graduation requirement.”

I sigh. Of course it is.

“I think you’ll be surprised how similar the people in this community are to you,” he says suddenly.

This community? The alley ways, the graffiti, the dark streets where drug deals and muggings happen?

“They’re the same as you. Same kind of broken.” He chuckles to himself. “That’s a song by Jason Castro. Ever heard of it?”

I shake my head, only half listening. I stare at his office wall clock.

“Well, thanks, I guess,” I say. “I need to get going.”

By the next month, I had coordinated my volunteer time with a local homeless shelter. Professor Orefield had recommended I go there, and so I went along with it. I didn’t have enough time to look for other opportunities, anyways.

I sit on the city bus on the way to my first time volunteer time slot. I cautiously sit next to a lady on crutches and pull out my homework. My British Literature reading is due in the morning. I open up to a poem by Jon Donne.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”

I frown. Why couldn’t the poet just say what he meant? I didn’t have time to search for meaning. Yet I read on. My bus stop was coming soon.

“… Any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I slap the book closed and push past the crutches lady. My stop is here.

*                                          *                                         *

One year later

Hundreds of things happen in one year. Among those things, I now understand the meaning of Jon Donne’s poem. I also understand why Professor Orefield had mentioned Jason Castro.

I had been at the shelter all year. I finished my volunteer requirements, and I graduated last spring. Now I work at the shelter, as the co-director. I feel as thought my eyes have opened. I never realized how much alike all of us really are, until I really immersed myself into the work of the shelter. It doesn’t matter if we have a house to our name or not – the things inside us are the same.

Today is the day my best friend Kadie comes with me to work, since her training at the shelter starts today. Kadie is a senior in college, with only a few credits and her volunteer hours left to complete. When I suggested coming to the shelter, she half-heartedly agreed.

We pull into the parking lot, and she stares. “This is it? This is where you spend all of your time?”

I admire the rundown building. “Yep,” I say. “Isn’t it great?”

She sighs. “I don’t get why I have to do this. I don’t have time.” She looks at me for sympathy, but I just grin.

“We’re the same – you, me, and the people inside this building,” I start.

“What?”

“Have you ever heard the song Same Kind of Broken by Jason Castro?” I ask. She shook her head, and I shut off my car. “Google it when you get home.”

“I don’t have time,” she whines.

“Don’t worry. It’ll all be worth it.” Kadie is my best friend; has been for years. Sometimes she needs tough love. She needs to be challenged just as I do.

“I don’t see how,” she persists. “I’ve done this volunteer stuff before. I know what it’s like; it’ll just be the same.”

I can’t help smirking. She is going to learn more, grow further and experience far greater things than she could imagine. She has no idea what she was getting herself into.

If I Could

Encounters with the many customers at gas stations can be quite interesting.

There are, of course, many customers who are quite “normal” or average. With around 1,000 people stopping by the gas station I work at, many are not memorable transactions. People can be quite dull and robot-like when they stop at the gas station to buy a pop or cigarettes.

Fortunately,  not all customers are personality-less.

For example, there was the one lady who explained, without me asking or prompting, that she was headed to a funeral and then went into details of the persons death despite my attempts to move her along to the funeral she was already late to.

Another time, a man came into a gas station I worked at and asked what kinds of gas there were and what each was used for. He then went into a tirade about gas prices and how he doesn’t understand them. I had basically no answers to his questions (I mean, do I look like a gasoline expert? Just buy some.) and he eventually left after getting all his talking out.

One customer memory, however, does stand out from the others. I’m not sure why, exactly.

You see, there was once a man who was a regular customer at my gas station (Sometimes I like to pretend I own it.). I knew him decently well, if you consider the random discussions I would have with him about his job at the casino, my job at the gas station and whatever random events were happening around town (We are all about townies at the gas station.).

Oftentimes, we didn’t talk about anything significant. But, like I said, I knew him decently well.

One day, he was lingering after purchasing his two bottles of Mountain Dew. We had discussed our jobs and got on the subject of guitars. He told me, “I just want to teach people about them.”

“Huh?” I asked because I hadn’t been following the conversation that closely.

“If I could do anything, all day long, I would teach people about guitars. I love them,” he said wistfully while looking at me like I was supposed to turn into a genie-in-a-bottle and give him his wish or something. I just looked at him and let the awkward silence reign. I was used to them because they happen often at a gas station, one of the more boring places in the world.

He left a little bit later, without explaining himself. But he came back for his Grizzly Wintergreen chew one day and he went on with his explanation. “I’m saving up for a new guitar, almost there!”

There was pause while I rang his items up.

“You see, my Dad taught me how to play and I’ve been playing all the time, used to play for the church in high school but haven’t done many public performances lately.”

I knew that there were a few music stores around that he could have applied to or he could have started lessons or played at the local coffee shop that hosted local artists. Why wouldn’t he do that? I didn’t understand but said, “That’s cool that you are close to buying it.”

“Thanks,” he said and walked out. He occasionally talks about his guitar (he bought the new one eventually) and what songs he is working on. I sometimes offer some words of encouragement.

Then he goes to the casino and I find something else to break the boredom at the gas station. The boredom hits as some more robot-customers visit. If only I could not be so bored.

 

 

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