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…a song won’t change the world…

Bob’s Guitar

Recently it was singer Neil Young’s seventy-fifth birthday (Nov 12, 2020). I listened to much of his eclectic music paying attention to the lyrics. I was struck by their reflective nature and his responsiveness to emotional landscapes both personal, and public.

Music is his passion. Even though I have always enjoyed much of his music I haven’t always paid attention to the lyrics. That day I did and because of it, I was inspired by his authenticity. It seemed to me this Canadian born icon of the music industry has been a vanguard.

Young’s lyrics for example, “a song won’t change the world,” perhaps has, or “someday you’ll find what you’re looking for,” leads us to continue a search for a meaningful life. His lyrics have certainly influenced generations.

It seems that as a reflection of culture music has its purpose to be what it is, and in bite size pieces, influence, perhaps alter, public perspective. It is the gift an artist offers others in living their passion, and allowing the receiver to receive what they are able, when they are ready, and absorb its message in whatever way makes sense to them.

Often, I am asked how I maintain a positive attitude in the midst of pain, physical limitations and unease, and how that has shaped my life. Resiliency—the power or ability to return to an original form, or the ability to respond to, or to recover from a crisis, disruptive process, etc.—is both a perspective and an attitude.

For example: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” can work in many ways. I choose two—make that lemonade and enjoy the process; find the sweetness, or drink it sour—the choice is mine.

How has this shaped my life? Simply by taking another point of view different from what I am seeing in the moment has helped me build compassion for others viewpoints and grow kindness and respect in myself.

I neither believe nor disbelieve in a higher power. I simply know there is an interconnected energy far greater than little old me, tying us all together by invisible threads. How it is named, and what I choose to name it, is again, a choice.

Perhaps this is what all “creatives” offer—icons and otherwise. They put their work out into the world, and allow it to move, motivate, or provoke change—in ourselves and others—in recognition of our interconnectedness.

Writing Practice: Write freeflow (stream of consciousness), on how your personal health and wellness is connected to the whole. You may wish to write a poem, or create a collage to reflect this. As a fellow “creative”, let it flow… 

full of jam…




Thank-you to the anonymous photographer who captured this moment.




full of jam..   by Angela Simons

these women laugh, their music cacophonous in the woods, just like the cackle of jackdaws in the morning glow, their strings on fiddle, guitars and banjo strum, thrum, bleat to the sheep hidden behind hawthorn, rich with berries, ready to prickle, the dance buds of sweet wine as it sidles down throats rich in song- oh merry widows eager for the day, blossom sweet , your pluck full of jam strings into the light, coy with your joy in the dawn.

buds and blossoms

buds & blossoms

Sent over via technology, I see spring in England through the lens of my brother, bluebells in the woods. It was taken not far from a place we grew up. My bud and raindrop (bottom left-hand side) taken within the same timeframe, is in contrast to the blossoms of bells blanketing the woods. Distances, while measured the same, are quite different in experience.

An hour’s travel at 100 km an hour is an hour’s travel on a relatively straight road here in Canada. An hour’s travel in England often means as little as 30 miles an hour, and the feeling of crossing the universe. And in a sense it is. One county to the next, while only a matter of miles in distance, roads, landscape and density easily determine the speed by which you travel- so in a sense time is eaten-up by landscape. The same can be said here, but the experience and variable is different.

Now with technology, time is gobbled and almost choked on by the speed in which it transfers and can be consumed. And distance, has no boundaries it seems. It surprises me, still that through the use of technology, time, space and place almost evaporate with barely a blip. Remarkable and unremarkable- both, and.

My use of the word remarkable leans into an extraordinary piece of information and change, which can occur in an instant. Unremarkable, is a medical term, I encountered during my three months in hospital and subsequent years. I heard doctors and interns mutter “unremarkable” repeatedly, and I wondered at its use.

Years later I heard it again, and my wherewithal was substantially increased so I asked “What do you mean, this is unremarkable? I see it is as utterly remarkable.” I was standing as straight as a plumb-line compared to an upside down letter “L” a year earlier.  The surgeon laughed and explained the term unremarkable was used to explain “nothing out of sync, everything is normal.”

So, my question is this- with the way technology is used today, and its speed – and the attached expectation to its application, diversity, immediacy and adaptability, has it become so unremarkable, it barely registers as to its marked remarkability?

On Sunday, a friend, a wonderful improvisational pianist, and I concocted another version of technology’s remarkability- we couldn’t get together to practise our “piece” before an amateur concert on Sunday, so we involve technology as our aid. I phoned her answering machine (yes, she still has one), and I spoke the poems onto her machine so that she could get an “idea” of what cadence and rhythm I held so she could “get a sense” before our performance.  We have only ever done this together once before, and our chemistry works. We intend to make a CD of our joint works- poetry and piano.

The remarkable element that we missed in our exploration of technology was the value (and dare I say), the essential component of a creative collaborative process – the chemistry of energy, the “click” in the dynamic. Independently, with the aid of technology, we got the “gist” but not the “essence” that only emerged with physical collaboration, and spontaneity.

We PLAY well together, my friend and I, and the remarkability is the creative synergy that erupts as a result of physical connection. Technological connection is valid, yet the interpersonal connection makes the magic “bubble” with vitality.

Simultaneously on Sunday my brother, across the land mass separating us, experienced something unique also- a wood full of bluebells , whereas here snow persisted in fluttering to the ground, melting and leaving buds on the tree hapless in their search for warmth, and the allusive spring.

However, not to leave technology out in the cold- I will say, that it is because of it that my brother and I are able to share more, and connect more frequently- for example, sharing photographs via ether-space, and talking via free-techie space- now that is remarkable in its un-remarkability, and I am grateful for its gift. Thanks bro’ for sharing. Love it!