This song has been playing hide and seek with me for over a week. Bits of memory flashing inside my head. But never quite enough to actually help me to identify the song. Like a female student, more my age, who would ask me to sing it for her. I could remember the student, her name, where she lived, what she did for a living, but couldn’t quite remember the song, or the words. I knew it was a female singer, but couldn’t remember her name.
Could remember singing it with my daughters in the car, driving home from somewhere, and having a quite interesting conversation about the meaning of the song, but not the song itself. And because I’ve been using different songs to introduce these essays, I figured this was the next one in the line up. But, I had to remember the song in order for that to take place. And the only thing I could remember was that it wasn’t necessarily a happy song, packed with emotions and lots of questioning. It took a while, but I finally remembered that it was in a movie about Angels. That’s when it all fell into place.
This song always reminded me of those caricatures of a human figure with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. And always in competition with one another, while the poor human creature, caught between them, was in danger of severe whip lash. Both have a need to be satisfied, but who makes that choice? Do we seek a new path, or try all the old ones from the past? Even though they didn’t usually work.
Some say that division is the one between the head and the heart. What we think, versus what we feel. And it is up to the individual to make that choice. Sometimes that division is between the past and what we’ve been told we are, and the current moment, the now in which we exist and the person it is possible for us to be. All a bit confusing isn’t it?
What would you say if I told you that the angel, and the devil are you and how you make your choices? While children, growing up, we are told about the world and how it works. We are told, to some extent, our place in that world, and many times, how we will succeed or fail in that world. If told often enough that we are not meant to succeed, why even try?
I have been writing here, about our need to sit still, to open a conversation with our own person. We need to know the influences that shaped us, that formed our own attitude about the person we are. It is simple but also one of the most difficult things to do. We argue that we don’t have time, are far too busy, so many obligations to be fulfilled. But then I must ask, what can ever be more important than getting to know the one person you need to know?
After my last essay, I wrote down (in a comment) that my two most often used self-definitions are 1. Hermit, and 2. North Wisconsin Hillbilly. They are the angel and the devil that ride my shoulders. Can you figure out which is which? Good luck with that.
Over time, I have come to know that each of them is both an angel and a devil. We have been taught that an angel is good, and a devil is bad. But, I have discovered that I need both to find completion. How can that be, you might ask? It has to do with the way the brain works. One side of the brain is reserved for Logic and Language. The other side of the brain works on association. In other words, when the angel steps forward holding her standard high and sparkling in the sunshine, it is the devil who steps forward and shows her that her action could make a mess. He does that by simply asking the right question. And, more importantly, when the devil suggests an action that would be harmful to myself or others, it is the angel that steps forward with her standard to remind me that some things might feel good but could also be very destructive.
And if you are curious, like me, I learned all of that by getting two degrees: one in History, and the other in English with a writing concentration. History, by its very definition is story. But it needs both Language and Logic to tell the story so that it makes sense and offers examples of both good and bad behavior. And both are reliant on metaphor and simile to make themselves understood.
In the song, “And it’s hard at the end of the day.”
“Need some distraction,
What is the distraction? Is it helpful, healthy, or just a means of numbing all those tangled up thoughts and feelings that weigh us down? Some might turn to drugs because they work, if only in the short run. Or is there a different path we can choose? An activity that will soothe all those jangling, wrangling nerve endings and might lead us on a path that is far more healthy and even relevant?
I keep coming back to the same answer. Creativity. Even taking the time to put a jigsaw puzzle together is a creative activity. Taking all the separate pieces and putting them all together brings about that sense of completion and satisfaction when the picture slowly comes together and is completed. It also awakens and demands the use of both hemispheres of the brain to do it. Logic tells you that all of the pieces are needed to complete the work, while association is necessary to be able to find each of the needed pieces and where it belongs in the larger scheme. Just like a battery, the human mind needs both the negative and positive charge for any current to flow.
So, I’m right back here at the beginning, telling you to just sit still and breathe softly and gently. At some point some part of the brain will ask the question: “Why are we just sitting here, breathing? Don’t you have better things to do, all that stuff that needs to get done?”
And your response might sound something like this, “Well, we are doing this because Elizabeth says it is the best way to begin.”
And who the hell is Elizabeth and what does she have to do with all the other things you should be doing and aren’t?
Although it might be interesting to hear your response to that question, I’d much rather give you a couple of my own. Because I’ve gotten rather good at this business of sitting still and breathing, I’ve even used it to create some rather interesting pieces of where they might go.
The first one is titled “Self-Talk Matters II” and can be found here:https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/self-talk-matters-ii/
The second one is a talk I had with my dragon: https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/dialogue-with-my-dragon/
I am requiring a lot of stillness these days, to offset the clamor of all that is happening in the world. I always love reading you, my friend. I am in large part a hermit too. A very tired one, at this point.
Sherry, I know how you feel. It’s so difficult to simply not know what might be coming next. Add to that the ongoing worry of whether whatever is coming might be even worse, and all you get is a cocktail for distress. But, I think these essays are helping me, if nothing else. I begin and they go where they will and I’m just here mostly taking dictation, lol. This one certainly was a surprise, but then all of them have been. I had forgotten about the two hemispheres of the brain and then there it was. I love it when that happens. But, the most important thing we can do is to get those two communicating with one another, working in harmony. And that only happens if we get still and breathe. So I do it a lot, just like you. Glad we are in this together,
Hugs from the Hillbilly,
Thank you, Saania. Glad you like it.