Irish Folk Songs + What I Learned When Listening

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So, Thanksgiving has recently passed and I have some good things to share. The other day at work, I was finishing up with all of the prep I had to do when my boss asked me if I had time to shovel the walkways out front and out back so that our customers could enter the place safely. I grabbed a coffee and went to it, putting on a playlist that I favorite this time of year. It’s full of old Irish Folk music, and that’s what this blog post is about. Sort of.

I have had a hell of a month and it has been so good for my soul. So much has happened, and I can’t explain it all, but through all of the stress that I’ve been experiencing I’ve learned something important. Art is worthless if you don’t have a passion for it. Up and down I’ve watched the artists around me cultivate their work into beautiful projects. Writing, music, food, models. I’ve been watching all of this from outside the window of my bedroom where I have been doing much the same. This year I competed in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and completed, from start to finish, a whole 80 thousand word novel. This was groundbreaking for me because I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell. I’ve been writing blog posts and whatnot, but it isn’t the same to me. I’ve got all of these stories swirling around inside my head that I need to get out, but somewhere along the line this year I lost my motivation to write them so I stopped. It wasn’t because I was upset at my writing or that I didn’t want to write them, it was just that. I stopped. Because I stopped the way I had, I fell into a sort of writer’s block funk that didn’t promote me using my creative abilities to their fullest, since I’ve been this way, it had begun to wear on me, making me callous and frustrated because I didn’t have the words that I wanted to say. I’ll be the first to admit, when I’m not writing I get grumpy. It’s my go-to for everything and when I’m not creating new stories or blog posts it starts to wear on me and makes me frustrated, because I’ve seen the list of books that I have to write. It’s enormous. I need to be working, but regardless of my own motives I’ve had things that needed to be done. Spending time with friends, working so I can afford my bad habits, buying coffee in bulk etc. Those activities took away from my personal working/writing time and it made me feel useless. NaNo did something miraculous for me. When I began, I was nervous that I wouldn’t get it finished in time and I wouldn’t be able to claim that I had won it, and that made me nervous because I think that inside my head there was some piece of me that felt as if losing this challenge meant that I wasn’t supposed to be a writer. Maybe it meant that I needed to find a new path, I don’t know what I was thinking to be honest. I am a writer, I have been all of my life. It’s what I have centered my entire well of creativity around (mostly.) So I shouldn’t have been shocked when I met that fifty thousand word mark. Yet, I was. I was surprised that I had the dedication within me to continue working even when I didn’t want to. When I felt like I was going to fail and that little demon inside of my head kept whispering for me to give up I would put on music, sit down and power through it. I beat that voice inside of my head into submission, because the only person who will tell me that I can’t do something is me. I won’t allow myself to be bullied by my own thoughts.

In short, I’m thankful for the gift of writing that has been so graciously bestowed to me. Even if I don’t change everyone’s world, I can be okay with that. As long as I write things that people want to read.

In that same breath of thankfulness, I want to share that I am thankful for my friends and family for sticking by me this month and last month. They both flew by and I’m amazed at how quickly the time has come and gone. In every second they were behind me in their own ways, urging me on and telling me to keep going. To keep growing. My support system, the people that I love are the best people that I know and I’m so thankful that they love me in return. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

Returning to Irish Folk songs and snow shoveling, it has been snowing in Elko for a few days now and in any other year I would have been put off by that snow, upset that it came before Christmas and telling it to make a home somewhere else. Somewhere much colder and more bitter than right beside me. I say this, because I’ve bene dealing with a lot of bitterness. I’ve been spending more time arguing with people at work and in my social life than I have been spending on loving them, and that is something that just won’t do. Each one of my associates and acquaintances are like the snowfall. Brilliantly designed and incredibly unique. I cannot take away that uniqueness and I would never dream of doing so, but I need to remember that there is no one like them. They are all their own, and for me to tamp out their gentle ideas and voices because I am not in a mood to hear them is paramount to ignorance. Ignorant is something that I’ve never wanted to be. So I’m thankful for each of the people that challenge me in my life, even if I don’t always react with kindness, know that I love you. Know that I have a bad habit of making my mouth say things without my mind’s permission, and for that I’m sorry. I will do what I can do to keep a heavy hand full of grace at my side because I know how bitter and angry I can become.

I’ve been hearing a lot of debate lately about America’s relations with foreign countries and more back and forth about the presidential candidates than I’d like to hear. I’ll speak on that soon, but I want to take the time to say that I’m thankful to live in a place that can support that kind of healthy debate regardless of what side you pick. It’s a beautiful place to be in.

Here, at the end of the post for this week, at the end of this month, I want to share something that happened to me that same day. I returned from shoveling and got the snow knocked off of my shoes so that I would look presentable to tables, and I waited. The restaurant was dead for some time before anyone came to eat. When someone did I realized that it was my friend’s parents. They ordered a simple meal and began eating as I stopped by every now and then to check in on them. They greeted me like usual and asked how things were going, they asked about my books and my job, my home life and my family, they asked a lot of questions, and I answered them all. When their meal was through I said goodnight to them and wished them a happy Thanksgiving as they trotted out of the restaurant and back into the cold air. When I came to the table to pick up their finalized bill I found something I certainly didn’t expect. They had left me a $50 tip on a $50 bill with a note that read “Happy Thanksgiving!”

I couldn’t believe the gift that they had given me. Not because I was ashamed for the quality of service or that I felt as if it was a handout, not at all. It was the first thing in some time that reminded me of the genuine kindness and compassion that I try so frequently to surround myself with. I want my friends and I to do those kinds of things for people. Whether they need our kindness or not is not the question. The question is, should we give it? The answer is yes. It was always yes.

I had a humbling moment that rocked my entire world for a night and went home, after I had arrived inside of my warm house and took my place at my computer I texted my friend and told them about what his parents did. I asked him to thank them and we got to talking about it when he said that I probably deserved it. Trying to maintain the humility that had wrecked my emotions for the day I replied to him by saying

“Certainly not, but I will try to live up to it.” To which he replied once again, don’t kid yourself man. You deserved it.

 

That’s the lesson today.

You deserve it. The kindness of others, the same kind of humility that was given to me. The joys of life and love and friendship. You deserve all of it. I want you to have it and I will do my best to live up to those gifts, those kindnesses by being here for you. By loving you with everything I am.

If there is anything in this life I want to be remembered for, I want it to be singing Irish Folk music while I gather up all the wonderful snowflakes that have gathered on the sidewalk outside my home. I want to gather all of you for your flaws and your mistakes and your graciousness and your love and your explicit beauty and have us all sit in a room together.

That’s what I want. That’s the kind of thing I’m thankful for, that someone has managed to do that for me. Even if it is one snowflake on a chilly bedroom window. I want to be there for you. Terribly original and broken and overflowing with passion for what I do. I want to be there to remind you that this life is amazing. It is beautiful to exist within, and it is everything good that I want to share with you.

I’m thankful for you, whoever you are, for reading this message. I love you and I hope that this world humbles you tonight. Not because you’ve gotten cocky, not because you are prideful, but because sometimes everyone needs to be humbled so that we can see just how huge the world around us really is. So that we can see our own uniqueness and our own explicit beauty amongst the frozen hands of our peers. Humility is often described as a fall of some kind, and it’s an accurate description.

You are human, you are flawed or broken yes, but you have passion within you. You have love and laughter to share with the world around you. You have songs to sing and things to write and art to create because you are an individual, unlike anything I have ever seen in this world before. So if being humbled is like taking a fall, I’m falling with the rest of you in this great snow storm. I can’t wait to find the ground and lock crystalline hands with you and decorate the lives of people who need us. Of people who want us more than we want ourselves.

That is my goal. At the end of the day, If I’m just a single flake of snow, I want you all to know I’m terribly proud to cover the ground with all of you.

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