Letters,  Songs

For I Can Dream

Dear Friends,

It’s been a little while since I wrote just to check in about life in general, and I wanted to share what I’ve been up to. In particular, check this out — I recorded another song!

It’s tempting to list everything that’s wrong with this piece in an act of feminine self-deprecation and artistic humility, but we all know I’m an amateur here, and truthfully, I’m proud of having recorded it at all. This song was built out of a poem I wrote back in 2018, which I brought to a songwriting workshop with Victoria Vox that summer. She gave me some great tips on how to develop a free-form piece of poetry into a recognizable song with a chorus and a bridge and everything, and then I tinkered with it on-again-off-again for over a year to get this piece. I still think it’s not final, but it’s what I have. If I ever got the opportunity to record it in a proper studio with a knowledgable producer/editor, there are a few refinements I would make, but hey — creativity is a messy business and a much slower process than some would have you think.

I’ll share a little more about the lyrics here, in case you’re wondering. This song is literally about dreaming. Dreams are a huge source of inspiration and comfort for me. It’s in dreams that our minds get to play, process, and create something new out of the jumble of experiences in any given day. I imagine my mind like a toy box where all the experiences of the day are tossed in haphazardly, much like the way I would clean my room as a kid. We don’t take the time during our busy lives to consciously “put away” one experience before moving on to the next, so in our sleep, our brains do their best to sort through it all. In dreaming, my subconscious mind begins to pick up each item, figure out what it is, and decide where to put it — this bright shade of red I noticed on someone’s dress today may remind me of a picnic blanket I saw as a kid. A moment of confusion I experienced at work may resonate with a particularly challenging class I took in college. The stress I am carrying around may be expressed on the flickering screen of the mind as a scene of running from an unseen danger or flying off a giant waterslide into an unknown ocean. The resulting dream is somehow thrilling yet terrifying, rather like life itself. And the best part is that it’s safe because it’s all only happening in my mind.

One person told me this song sounds like a hymn. Maybe that’s because the chorus says, “Oh, it is a prayer, a gratitude.” Or maybe because all those years I spent in Catholic schools and churches shifted my tastes toward the ecumenical. Or maybe because the original poem was titled “A Prayer for Tonight.” You may know that I’m not a religious person, and yet, I do believe in praying, and I especially like to write my prayers. Whether or not you buy the concept of God, once you’ve been trained to pray as a child, prayer remains a way to connect with that which we sense to be divine. And I do believe in the divine in a very broad and somewhat absurd sense. If there is such a thing as intelligence, and we believe ourselves to be intelligent, then a universe that’s more complex and subtle than we can understand, which somehow managed to produce us and our supposed intelligence, must also be possessed of an intelligence greater than our own. Except, rather than viewing God as some being up in the sky who is infinitely wise and compassionate, I view the universe as a sort of ocean of awareness that expresses itself as us and our world. But we are as much nonsense to the universe as our dreams are to us. We wake up and they disappear, and so will we one day.

I’m not sure that’s a philosophically sound argument, so please continue to think for yourself on the matter, but this is how I cope with my place in this absurd universe. So this song is a prayer to strangeness and absurdity, and the beautiful capacity of the mind to dream.

Anyway! That’s what I’ve been up to lately. Oh, and like … work and roller derby and stuff. Those things are going well, I think, but I didn’t come here to talk about that today.

I hope you’re all well and enjoying the end of summer. It’s a beautiful time of year here, and the Renaissance Fair is about to start! I’m not that into Christmas and New Year’s, but from the opening day of fair till the day after Halloween is my most wonderful time of the year, which means now is my time to make plans and goals for the year ahead. I’ll have to write more to you about that soon. Meanwhile, stay cool and hydrated, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Love,

Mary

P.S.

Don’t forget the question form is still open. It’s now available in a link at the top of this page, too. 🙂

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