A long time ago, in the days when people wrote letters and there was no such thing as texting and Instagramming, my girlfriend, Julie, and I would write each other. I addressed the letters to Dearheart and placed the time, date and mood of the day on the upper left corner. I wanted a chance to live in a Monet pixelated landscape. I wanted to feel a connection to environment, what was going on in my world as a mum, new homeowner, frustrated spouse and struggling writer. I don’t know why, but I thought that by sharing my truth it would somehow bring us closer, because truth is what I craved from her and everyone in my life.
Truth is a difficult thing, I’ve discovered.
Peeling back the layers and figuring out what’s really there, the why’s, the motivations, the Real Deal. Tough stuff.
I used to tell my 8th grade English language arts students, just last year as a matter of fact when I was in the virtual classroom because my first COVID vaccine was still “brewing”, that to understand why the protagonist and antagonist does what he/she/it does, you have to find The Source, like the source of a river. And even when you trace the pathway back to its beginnings, there are other why’s and how’s and when’s. But with enough patience, persistence, discovery and, yes, sometimes pain, it is possible to hike to that mountaintop of origins.
A long time ago, there was a rock group called Led Zeppelin. Boys and girls, they were a big deal back when I was growing up. (Flashback to my classroom where I discovered, to my dismay, students didn’t know about 1970s and earlier iconic billboards like Zeppelin, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and cherished novels like ‘My Side of the Mountain’.) Anyway, when I was your age I was more into pop music like Elton John and Cat Stevens. Zeppelin was kind of a “guy’s band” because of all the heavy guitar riffs. Still, when I was invited to a Zeppelin concert at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles by one of my guy friends, I said. “Yes,” and rocked my head and jumped up and down like all of the other drunk and stoned fans. It was a scene, a place to be, that I frankly remember little about thanks to Boon’s Farm Strawberry Hill Wine and multiple trips to the bathroom.
But recently, on my way to and from the nursing home to visit Bruce, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to Zeppelin. I’ve submerged myself in interviews, live concerts, music I like/love and tunes I don’t need to listen to again. And I have become a huge fan, as in, if I see a T-shirt with the band’s name on it at Target, I’m buying it.
Why? Because when I was busy with my life, studying for tests, cheerleading, boy-friending, arguing with my siblings, feeling misunderstood by my mother, I completely missed out on Zeppelin’s brilliance as musical and lyrical story-tellers. Set in the context of the time, Zeppelin was doing something different musically from their peers and I think that’s what turned off my pop music-tuned ears. At the time, I couldn’t get past the screeching and screaming that, now with 50 decades under my expanded belt, I fortunately understand in an entirely new way.
Which is pretty awesome, right?
I, you, can take something once discounted because of a lack of perspective, open-mindedness–whatever–and sit down and listen and connect with it in an entirely new way. We can love something or someone we once denied, even distained.
As painful as this recent passage of time has been for me, I realize that I’m realizing.
I’m getting to the core, the Source.
Dearheart, as the squirrels unearth Fall’s treasures and the crows frantically strip twigs off my backyard Silk Oak Tree in preparation for a new beginning, so do I. The Truth will set me, and you, free.