This time of year, things begin looking a bit bleak and drab. The grass is brown and the trees are dark gray. Some of the trees have suffered broken limbs from the high winds, while others, in wet ground, have been pushed over; their roots no longer held fast by dry ground. When there’s snow, it has a layer of coal dust on its surface, adding to the drabness of the winter.
Going into Glace Bay or Sydney, the debris on the side of the roads adds to the sense of neglect; the residue of salt turns the road’s surface a dirty white, empty coffee cups, cigarette packs, and fast food wrappings litter the side of the highway.
It was from this mind-frame that I found myself retreating earlier yesterday. I had my MP-3 player and ear buds with me and I decided to take solace in my musical medication. I had received my pay from one of my teaching jobs and it didn’t seem to be very impressive and I could feel myself slipping into despair.
I have always used music to enhance, alter, or even distort my experiences and moods, and yesterday, I was rather delighted to find the music that came on was that of Idan Raichel, a young Israeli musician who is known for his collaborations with musicians of other nationalities and religious backgrounds. I had become aware of him when a friend of mine sent me a You Tube video of his collaboration with India.Arie.
This made me think of another artist I had discovered on You Tube as well. (I sometimes have these “Domino” moments where one thought will lead to several other similar ones.)
At any rate, I began to think of all the wonderful music that I have heard in my life, and the comfort it has given me in times of emotional discomfort, and for a moment I felt connected to the musicians who created that music.
I know on some deeper level that I am connected to them. It is a fallacy of western culture that we are all separate; Man separate from God, Man separate from Woman, Man separate from other men of other cultures, white separate from black, and so on... but Eastern cultures and ancient ones, from the Druids to the Indigenous peoples of all continents, believed in the interconnectedness of all life. It stands to reason that if all we know and experience is derived from that pivotal nanosecond we know as the Big Bang, then we would all be connected to that; evolved from that, a part of that.
As the ethereal sound of the music carried me away from the drabness of a Cape Breton January, I allowed it to carry me back to the peace and tranquillity of a late January afternoon in Cape Breton.
A year ago, I was settling in, returning from Fredericton where I had hoped to live out my days. In the time since then, I have at times laboured with my decision to return, at other times rejoiced.
As I sit here in the semi-darkness, the room lit by the computer screen and the streetlamp outside on my driveway, I am gripped by the familiarity of this place. I have lived in this house for twenty-two years this spring, longer than I have lived in any other place. It has been as much a part of my life as was the house my parents built. What I see from my window is actually more familiar than the view from the windows of my first home.
The song that was featured in the You Tube video my friend sent me spoke the line, “We can debate till the end of time who's wrong and who is right, Or I can honour your choices and you can honour mine.“
... And I can also honour my own choices.