Some Thoughts on Mending
also, the Dogged Pursuit
You’ve seen that dog, head down, nose intent, gliding along. All that matters is the scent as he moves into his purposeful future. And then suddenly he is done and he lifts his nose, asking what else might be drifting in on the breeze.
Head down, that’s me, particularly lately, as I neared the finish line in a three-year quest to get thirteen songs out into the world. My intention, quite simple: to midwife Nothin’ Lastin’ into the light and air and hope the songs connect with people who can use them. Fame, fortune, and other products of ambition hold little interest. I knew the music had value and all I wanted to do was make it available. Finding an audience is daunting these days as music has become a vast ocean of sound held in digital vaults, one drop barely discernible from another. So I did all I could to wind up like a cosmic sower, flinging shards of melody and words into the universe.
OK, that was last week. I let go on Friday. One minute in my hand, the next flung. And though I gave it my best, it was a day like any other day. People were too involved to notice much outside their busy lives, as it should be. Seeds take time to catch the wind, broadcast, settle, find that rare fertile spot of moist soil and then wait for the magic part, the hope of germination. Yes, I know I’ve used a half dozen metaphors in three inches of words. Please excuse my metaphorical exuberance but I’m not through.
Now, post-release of my album, my head is up in the air after a long time of nose in the dirt. This past weekend I was able to revel in golden aspen, fragrant morning air, and the sound of an argument between crows and ravens in our back yard. Today I have become not only that dog with his nose in the air but also that fertile ground beneath him, ready to nurture seeds, appreciating the wonderment of things blown in. Ready.
It started a few weeks ago, August 26, in fact, when I learned that Luke Bell, the 32-year-old country singer, had died after a long battle with mental illness. I didn’t know Luke well. We know his mom. His grandparents are dear friends from Wyoming. For years they have shared the worry and glory of Luke. He would be out of touch and at those times we’d hear from his grandmother, fear in her voice. Then he’d have a good spell, taking his meds, living a somewhat stable life. But then he’d fall off the earth again. It finally ended for Luke in Tucson, Arizona. Then came an outpouring of love for his artistry. I wish he could have heard the tributes from the New York Times, NPR and The Washington Post. When I hear Luke sing this song, I think of how lyrics and the voice behind them can carry all the joys and sorrows of the world.
I wore a smile so big and wide that all my friends could share …
Somethin’ brushed my shoulder, so I drew and turned around
Only to find my shadow had come to try me out
I saw what I was, I used to be, and what I’m now …
What do you do with all that talent, all that love, all that promise, all that loss? Then last week we happened on a podcast which is perhaps one of the most poignant stories I’ve ever heard. On the surface it’s a story about the suicide of a young man in a small Vermont community. But it is much more about what you do with the broken pieces. Please find the thirty-four minutes it takes to listen to “Finn and the Bell.”
What happens when a bell breaks? What do we do with our own broken parts? Seems like loss is all around us with loved ones and family of loved ones dying. Nearly every day we get notice of another friend or acquaintance who is dealing with serious illness.
Today Teresa introduced me to the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi. When a valued cup or bowl is broken, the artist mends the fracture with gold thus increasing the beauty and usefulness of the vessel into the future. This practice is predicated on the belief that the our work in the world is all about mending what is broken.
The Culture Care Creative, through its Academy Kintsugi, holds workshops all around the country where you can learn to mend broken bowls with enamel and gold. We have signed up for one in Wisconsin next month that provides the added bonus of a visit to the grandkids.
Creative minds fix upon these traumatic events in history. If you removed all the novels and artforms that came directly out of trauma, you’d lose 80% of the world’s art.
Makoto Fujimura, founder of Culture Care Creative
Thank you Loose Cannon Boosters for indulging my head-down fixation these past months. I hope you will find a vein of gold in today’s Boost, even with its acknowledgement of loss. It’s not an easy subject and I, for one, certainly know how to bury my nose in the sand.