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Tuning in, Tuning Out

Well it’s been a while, but it’s time to hum along again…

Everything changed last year. Everything rewound. I am back to where I started – a child standing on the cusp of life, astonished by its cruelty and harshness but humming along with songs of change, of equality, promises of a better, a kinder world. It did not turn out that way, despite the fervent desire for it I held on to so tightly as I began to play the adult’s songs. Gradually I tuned out those childhood desires, wishes. Life began to sweep me along, MS deafening me with its doom laden dirge. Now and again a bar here or there would break in, but never long enough to hold a melody, never long enough to start me humming again. Till now.

It took a while of course, but the seeds planted last year in that turbulent time have found their way to that much older, too long barren soil, and taken root. The sun is back in my garden, signs of life poking their heads above the soil (well what’s left that the dog hasn’t dug up!). Of course it’s bittersweet. I lay in my room last summer and watched my garden grow as I felt my being slip into the grasp of MS. Sitting out there now, or waking in the morning and looking out the window, it washes through me, the memory of that time. The scars physical and emotional still being cleaned and freshly dressed almost daily.  Fears and joys, lessons and limitations. Now as I watch my garden I find myself tuning in to an old song, albeit with a new arrangement. It’s a little sadder, a little slower, but still resolutely hopeful, this new old tune. And it is loud enough to drown out the dirge, and the discordant muzak of a world so obsessed with being bigger and excellent and leading and world-class that it has lost sight of, and faith in, that oldest of songs – kindness.

This music makes me hopeful that I can make a little part of this world in which to learn to grow kindness back in to how we get things done together. Hopeful that it’s time now to hum that tune again publicly. Hopeful now that I’ll find others to make a choir with, that our notes might travel further. Now that my ears are attuned again to those rhythms and melodies, I hear them everywhere. Somehow every time I  start to feel self-conscious, start to feel my voice tighten up as the voices whisper in my ear “don’t be stupid, this is how the world is” someone or something comes along and I hear the refrain again, feel the urge to hum again.

Last summer I thought I was hearing a song of despair. But it turns out it’s a song of redemption, a song of freedom.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fulfill the book.
Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs –
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.

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