It was June 8, 1965 that I can remember the first time I encountered going against the grain. Coincidentally, it was the first Talk I had with my father. I was eleven years old. The grain or the focus was, what I was going to be when I grew up? I was caught completely off guard and felt as though I was at a terrible disadvantage. I lacked the necessary mental state and experience to be able to parry, deflect or maneuver my father’s intentional incoming attack. Of course he had the experience and the presence of mind from living in the jazz world and being exposed to the dark side of things, like the society’s standards and labels. How drugs had transformed Billie, Monk and Coltrane and how the entertainment world treated women and minorities back in the 40’s and 50’s in his hey days. He wanted to protect me.
I began writing in my journals when I was eight years old. My mother gave me the greatest gift when she taught me how to read. My father’s greatest gift was to write a song and bring music into my life. The combination of both of their gifts gave me the love to write. Going against the grain is something that all of us face. Today I guess I am having an existential moment.
Perhaps it’s not that dramatic or some movie blockbuster. Maybe it is nothing more than connecting with my true self and taking a time out to take a good look at life and where I really want to be. Either way, somethin’s been blocking me from writing my memoir. It has nothin’ to do with having the courage to accept what’s true for me. I have read all these websites from literary agencies and how hard it is to be a writer that it takes away from allowing myself to do what I love to do. I have been feelin’ like that eleven year old girl who is asked a question and expecting to give an answer that I haven’t even asked myself. I realize it is a process. But there is an internal process and an external process and sometimes the answers do not reveal themselves before their time.
The reality of this situation is what we all grapple with and sometimes the result is not what we wanted or even dreamed of. I get frustrated, tired of the struggle and all kinds of weird things that say it has been a waste of time to make sense of them. When I try to figure out things by looking at myself and compare it to others, I am not being fair to myself or to others. That’s when I am out of balance and get lost.
It’s foolish to believe I am the only one that feels that way. I am sure you know exactly what I am talking about. I take this time to remember what it felt like when I was eleven and went to my first rehearsal with my father. I saw living examples of talented, weather-beaten, society labeled “misfits” who were well seasoned, professional, genuine artists whose genius was expressed on their own terms and with all of their souls. It was poetry in motion.
So at the end of the day, every. single. time. that you decide NOT to live what’s true for you, you’re giving other folks permission to make all kinds of assumptions about you and are loosing apart of yourself. You are also burying who you truly are to comply, people-please and keep a peace that sometimes needs to be awakened.
Those artists did not live with the illusion created by others but lived with being who they truly were and did not get lost. The result was Harmony. There was no fear of playing the wrong note or going off the melody when they soloed that the rest of the musicians could not know where to come back in. If they did, I would hear my father yell “What the hell was that?” Everybody laughed. He tapped the baton on the podium “okay, okay, let’s take it from bar 122 or bar 181 and let’s see what happens…” Now that’s what Life is all about. Perhaps going against the grain teaches us something about ourselves and life that everyone can learn from…How about you? Do you remember such a time? Peace and love out! JBC 😎 & ❤
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