Day 24–Platitudes

*Special thanks to my friend Emily Baker for writing today’s post and also for writing inspiring music.*

I write songs sometimes.  Usually they take a long time to germinate, but this one came quickly over the course of a low-lit afternoon in my old, airy living room in Mississippi.

 

love’s a gentle wind that draws me home

love’s a gentle wind that draws me home

love is a gentle wind; it draws me home again

 

free is what I feel when I’m with you

free is what I feel when I’m with you

freedom is what I feel; when I’m with you I can just sit still

 

the mountains and the seas will pass away

mountains and the sees will pass away

mountains, seas will pass away; one thing true is here to stay

 

love’s a gentle wind that draws me home

love’s a gentle wind that draws me home

love is a gentle wind; it draws me home again

 

I considered throwing it out.

It was too easy, too simple.  It didn’t come from any kind of current urgency or gut feeling.  If anything at that point in life, I was dealing with a keener heartbreak than I had ever felt before.  I didn’t really know what “home” meant to me anymore, and I wasn’t feeling particularly drawn anywhere.  But as they do sometimes, the song persisted.  I decided to keep it, but I’d add my twinge of sarcasm by calling it “Platitudes.”

platitude –a trite, meaningless, biased, or prosaic statement, often presented as if it were significant and original

Ooooo, burn!  Take that, my own subconscious, from which this song sprang!  Take that, everyone who thinks I’m a simple-minded girl singing a sweet little song about love.  I will show you that nothing is so simple.  That you all just enjoy being manipulated into feeling something.  That these words are meaningless.

But no one really ever got the sarcasm.  They took the song seriously.  They were moved.  I started to realize that I couldn’t really tell them that their honest reactions were meaningless.  The song resonated with people because it recalled in them something that was very real.  Something in them I’d never really have access to was being touched through the combination of words and sound.

And as time went on, I noticed that the song was gaining meaning for me too.  I sang it in my grandmother’s hospital room when we thought she might not make it much longer.  I sang it for my parents and friends just before I moved to the other side of the world.  I sent a recording of it too a guy I’d cared about, after things between us didn’t work out.  I sang it to my own melancholy heart, when I was alone with a weight of sadness.  It was like the song absorbed the significance of the moments, and it became more than a few words in a melody.

I’ve always had a bit of disdain for things I saw as inauthentic or cheap gestures—the platitudes in verbal or physical form, like the little grocery store boxes of candy that people give on Valentine’s Day—things that seem to be beneath the significance they try to carry.  But I’m learning to appreciate the little gestures and to be open to all the forms that love might take.

 

All Is Full of Love –Bjork

True Love Will Find You in the End –Daniel Johnston

Love’s a Gentle Wind –me

 

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