Secret Pop

Jan 13, 2003

Choices of the Chooser

Who am I to demand that inspiration come to me in the form of beautiful and breathtaking things? My pen has been more frantic under the influence of something more like pestilence. And memories are sometimes more concentrated -- more effective. I can be inspired by the moment that survived the aftermath and the want of forgetting. It shines more. Its edges are more defined. I can be cut by them. With ease.

I heard a song on the radio while I was driving home from work one night. It was late. It was always so late when I was driving home in those days. I had been hired to work there in the dark, it seemed. In my memory, although my time at that place took place from the early part of summer until just before Halloween, it was always that first day of Daylight Savings Time. Every day that I recall feels like that. Unnaturally dark. Each day, I was struggling to get used to it.

I was driving home from work one night, and a song played, and it was pretty to me. When I got home, I asked my boyfriend to download it for me. He did. I listened to it and found the melody to be pretty. In those days, even the most poignant words were only wonders seen through plate glass for me. I was impervious to them. When my heart stirred, it was for reasons that were real and present. Not because of familiar sentiments played through the veil of a pop song. I have no way of tallying whether it stirred more then. Or less.

But that was nearly three years ago. And that moment of that song belongs in a closed book. A time that is finished. A time I can only recreate in memory, and even that falsely. False, because the image is influenced by the years that came after. By the many times I heard that song again. By the many different ways it made me feel. That song has now become the journey of its impact. Each hearing producing a new set of responses. And a trail of memories to compare them to.

Some moments make me say, "Yes! I want to feel that way again!" And I lament their passing, mourning the certainty that my wish will not be fulfilled. Other moments are more like punishment. And they make me think that, as I have grown from childhood to this, I have come to learn many different meanings for the word "discipline."

There is a discipline to inspiration. There are rules to how I listen, how I see, how I soak in it all. There is a path to productivity that I can follow. That I can will myself to. Or I can just sit and feel it and let it pass without documentation. It seems that the inspiration might appear more precious if I allowed some of it to fall away. Instead, whenever I can, I reach for the little notebook in my handbag or the sunbleached receipts that intermittently rest on the floor of my car. Anything I can write on. Instead, I carry a camera with me nearly everywhere. And I train myself to be ready for inspiration to strike. Like lightning.

I collect the bits and pieces. And sometimes I do something with them. And sometimes I don't. And sometimes the inspiration changes. Or the circumstances do. So that I find myself starting one thing and finishing another. Or never finishing at all. Because the landscape has shifted before I was able to freeze it. All this change. It makes it hard to ever get anything done.

That time in my history -- when the nights always seemed to be the same dark color and the days were nearly always spent indoors -- that time swirls in on itself. A handful of distinct moments emerge, and they are all I can see. All that can be used to measure myself in that age. Was I happy? Was I being true to myself? Was I a fool? I was not seeking in those days. I was not absent in my present. I was not fixed on what was to come. Plans came easily, because they were formed around certainty and an easy goal of making someone else happy. I remember those days. But I'm often sure I am remembering them wrong.

I search only for something I can't see.

No comments: