tangles were meant to be untangled, songs to be sung

My oldest daughter got her first electric guitar yesterday and fiddled around with it for a few hours, filling the house with music. At sixteen she’s displayed a thousand times over not only how talented she is, but how passionate. Music is, simply, everything for her. Beauty is humbling and makes your heart ache, and I feel it viscerally when I listen to her sing.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons she expresses herself in such a heartfelt way is because it comes from her soul. She doesn’t do “organized” music. She takes a guitar lesson every other week, and did try out for the high-school a capella singing group, three times. She’s not organized, nope not at all (just peek into her closet). But while I’m a stickler for an organized room, I’m not a big fan of structures which seem to lend themselves to tangles. Organized music, like organized religion, makes its leaders judge and jury, determining who is good and who is bad, what is right and what is wrong.

I’ve noticed a trend of late in pop culture, and it disturbs me. Everyone, it seems is praying, which is a lovely thing… yet it seems that everyone is praying for things. They are praying to win the big game, to get an A, to get that promotion or that date or to score that goal, all pleas which are inherently selfish, aren’t they? It’s one thing to pray for strength, to pray for patience, for succor, for health or the well being of self or other, but quite another to pray that the numbers in your bank account increase by a zero or two.

My mother, who was never one for organized religion, and was a very gifted musician (catch the link there?) told me a story long ago about praying for something. She was a young girl and at the beach, hurrying to put on her bathing suit so that she could join her cousins, when she found it in a tangle. She struggled to unravel it but it was impossible, so she lay it on the bed and knelt next to it and prayed to God to please oh please untie the knots. Not sure what she promised in return. She swore until the day she died that when she opened her eyes there it was, perfectly laid out. Our own little family miracle. Knowing her, knowing her age at the time, I am certain that her prayer was of the purest intent. She went on to pray for other things, no doubt, one of which was to give her children a sense of what was right and wrong, good and evil, without dictating how exactly they should express that, taking us to mosque and synagogue, cathedral and temple, telling us of other cultures and showing us that there are many paths to the same destination and that what is inside is what matters.

photo by http://www.garnstudio.com

Life is full of tangles, and here is what started me on this meandering thought process… I love to knit, and because I’m self-taught I struggle with excruciating delight. My new domestic goal is to knit a pair of mittens, and to do it using what they call “dpn’s” or double-pointed needles. Sounds scary and violent, and it is. You basically start out with the most confusing tangle of needles (not one, but five!) and yarn, and you struggle to keep them straight. But if you keep at it, and, as one virtual instructor said, “focus only on the two needles you’re working with and let the other ones fall where they may,” you end up with a lovely circle of beautifully aligned stitches and, eventually, something to show for it…

Tangles were made to be untangled, songs made to be sung. Just close your eyes and focus on those two needles, on those two notes, on what matters.



6 thoughts on “tangles were meant to be untangled, songs to be sung

  1. This was beautiful. I still need to click the sing link but tell your daughter that whats so wonderful about music is when you don’t sound like everything else.

    I completely agree with you about prayer. My brother is raising my nephew very much like your mother raised you, making him aware of all choices and spiritualities. He also has trouble with organized religion for the same things you stated. It’s nice to know people are making an effort to introduce their children to all possibilities.

    Thanks for sharing. So jealous of your knitting skills. Post pictures when you finish! I would love to see.

    1. Thanks, Cassie. Oh, and as for my knitting, you too can learn (it’s actually my preferred form of therapy, knit 2 purl 2). My sweaters all are a bit misshapen and the only thing I’ve really mastered are scarves…and even then they all have their flaws. Flaws are a good thing, though, right?

  2. WOW. I am stunned by your daughters talent. Her voice, her inflection, her SOUL. You are right, she sings from her soul and that makes it all the more moving. It helps to her her gorgeous voice. I am a singer/guitar player too and I am inspired and impressed.

    This was a great post. I too have been moving away from organized religion. I just have trouble with the whole human aspect, making rules and judgments, when we are all just human, trying to do our best. Not everything is black and white.

    Loved the tangles motif.

    1. Oh thank you for your comments. I’m really proud of her. As for the religion thing, I wouldn’t say I was moving away from organized religion, perhaps just never got that close to it! I just think what you believe spiritually is very personal and it makes me uncomfortable when people put their beliefs in my face or when it gives them some illusion of being better than anyone else.

  3. Your daughter has a terrific voice and presence on camera. Her voice is beautiful! So much talent. I can tell she will continue and if it is something that she truly wants, she will go far.

    As far as religion goes, I agree that people seem to be praying for material things, but I think that has always been the case. I remember a very religious man asked me once “What have you done for God lately? You tell me all the things he has not done for you and yet, what one thing have you done for him?” I am not religious in the traditional sense, but I did reflect on his words.

    I learned to knit while in Norway. They are pros over there…very intimidating, but a nice old woman took me under her wing and soon I was knitting washcloths. Yes, that’s right. Although a small square washcloth is a great beginner pattern, I don’t recommend it. Particularly since I made millions. They became a family joke as who wants to wash their face with wool? Maybe I can market them as a derma-abrasive scrub or exfoliating peel? Now I’ve moved on to scarves for Christmas gifts. Love working on them when I can.

    1. Oh Annie…washcloths? Eek. And millions of them!? Frugal to be sure, and green, but must have been so dull to knit squares over and over. Actually though, I gave up on the mitten after unraveling and trying again and again and ended up making a hat. Learning there must have made you quite the pro.

      Yea, the religion thing is probably no different than ever. Maybe it’s because it seems every show we watch lately has little prayer circle breaks, “Oh Lord, let me win this round!,” which makes me a bit uncomfortable, especially since for me religious practice is a personal thing, and I know that if it were Muslims or Hindus, or Jews openly praying it wouldn’t be so “normal” or on prime-time tv… but then again that’s a loaded question I don’t want to get into. 😉

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