Tag Archives: musicians

The Things We Leave Behind

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Reflections as 2013  comes to a close…

I’ve been at a loss about writing this post because I don’t want Patchwork And Potpourri to be sad, and right now there is a lot of sadness in my world.  Several friends have lost family members.  In other parts of my world, relationships are strained, stressed and broken.  People sometimes can’t get along, or maybe even stand the sight of one another.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s don’t magically make these issues disappear…in fact, in some cases, the holidays just make these situations more painful.

Lots of holiday movies paint a picture of perfect people living perfect lives, snuggled next to roaring fires in snow-covered cottages with steaming mugs of cocoa.  There are blissful children around a Christmas tree laden with gifts.  It’s all very  Norman Rockwell.  My favorite holiday movie depicts quite a different scenario, one in which the protagonist thinks the world would be better off if he had never been born.

I had the chance recently to read Philip Van Doren Stern’s novella “The Greatest Gift”, the story upon which the classic Frank Capra movie,  “It’s A Wonderful Life” is based.  While the movie fills in a lot of elements not in the original story, the essence remains the same.  One person’s life makes a difference.  We all leave something behind.

In a series of concerts I sang in the weekend before Christmas, I spent some time looking more closely at my surroundings in the venue than I ever have before.  I wrote a bit about this and shared some musical instrument photos in my most recent post here.  Particularly fascinating to me were the many pieces of memorabilia backstage.

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Items ranging from poignant to ridiculous adorn almost every corner, ledge and inch of wall space.

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I don’t know why I’ve never paid any attention to all of the “stuff” backstage before, but this year I noticed it as though for the first time.  Among the various visual stimuli are decades worth of graffiti scrawled on the cinderblock walls.  I can’t help wondering about the people who have marked on the walls, left hats and boxing gloves and other items there.  And yes, I succumbed to the urge to leave my own mark behind.

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Isn’t that what we all want, after all?  To leave our mark on the world, some evidence that we were here.  A single friend was talking recently about how the holidays make his uncoupled status seem sadder than at other times, and that he just wants to feel like he matters, that he is cared for.  I responded that the search for significance is universal, whether we are coupled or single, gay or straight, old or young or someplace in the middle.

We ALL want to know that we matter.  We want to know that, once we are gone from this world, someone, maybe numerous someones, will miss us and remember us with love.  We want to know that we left something meaningful behind.

As 2013 comes to a close, my prayer is that I have been building something meaningful to leave behind me, that my world is maybe a  little better for my having been here.  I have no human children, so my legacy will not take that form, but I will still have a legacy. We all do.

If someone remembers that I made them laugh, or held them when they cried…if I blessed someone with a song or offered encouragement when it was needed…if I lightened a load or kept someone company…then I’ve left something meaningful behind.  I hope to continue building a legacy of memories, laughter and music for the people I encounter along the way.

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The Confidence Charms

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Musician Superstition

Lots of people have superstitions. Black cats and sidewalk cracks don’t bother me, but I always knock on wood. I can’t help it, it’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I don’t even remember how it got started, or when. I only know that I have to do it. It’s almost pathological!

Athletes, performers and musicians often have some ritual that they follow, or some lucky garment or charm that they wear or carry. I don’t believe in luck. Luck, to me, implies something randomly working out well. I don’t believe in random, either. I believe in preparation, blessing and confidence.

That being said, I have a musician superstition of my own, a set of confidence charms that I wear for every concert, solo, audition, interview or any other occasion (musical or otherwise) when I feel like I need a little extra confidence. The collection has grown over the years. When I was a teenager, my only charm was a simple, small gold treble clef that my parents had given me for Christmas or a birthday. I wore this pendant for every musical event that was important to me, from wedding solos to All-State Chorus auditions and performances, to my college choir tours and voice recitals. I gave this charm to my friend Kathryn as she was graduating from college the year after I did. I found a replacement treble clef shortly after that and began wearing it, but it didn’t look like the original.Image

At some point I added the gold heart locket that my sweet husband, Jeff, had surprised me with for Christmas one year. On one side it contains a photo of him on our wedding day. The other side has a picture of our first dog, Ernie The Wonder Beagle.Image

After Mama died, I purchased a tiny gold and ruby cross pendant. Ruby was her birthstone and I wanted something in ruby to honor her.Image

I began wearing the cross with the locket and the treble clef, sometimes on a necklace, sometimes on a bracelet. Later on I found another treble clef charm that looks more like my original one, so I added it to the collection.ImageThe most recent addition is a tiny broken watch, and the story that goes along with it. Mama was notorious for over-winding watches, and her old jewelry box contained several little ones from the 1950’s that no longer worked for her over-zealous winding habits. I added one of them to my collection of confidence charms while I was doing a ministry class in a hospital last year, as a reminder that the present moment is all we have.Image

I wore my charms every night I was on call at the hospital because I never knew what a given night would hold and I definitely needed confidence. Countless times I touched those charms as I prayed for a patient, a family member…for wisdom and compassion as I tried to minister to them.

The charms are currently on a gold charm holder pin, which has been their configuration for a while now. I also have a charm holder pendant that I can wear on a necklace and will probably alternate between the pin and the necklace.Image

Some people might think my confidence charms are silly. I will just say that they are sentimental. Each one has a special meaning and history. They are beautiful to look at and soothing to touch. When I have a special occasion or a challenging day, wearing them makes me feel more peaceful. Someday, along with the rest of my belongings, the charms will be passed down to someone I love, and I hope they give that person the same sense of peace and calm that I wear them for. And I hope that person will feel the love that is passed down with them.