Friday, April 27, 2012

Releasing

It's a word with many connotations. Releasing a new song, or a movie, or a book is an exciting, happy culmination of many, many hours, days, weeks, months or even years of work; it is a happy celebration of a job that was done as well as it could be done; a letting go of a project that has consumed everyone who worked on it. There is the hope that others will like it; the need that they will buy it, and the fear that they won't.

Releasing a child into adulthood, or an injured animal that one has nursed back to health into the wild, is also a letting go; an expression of trust, of hope, of anticipation that the child or the animal will do well in its own life. One hopes that the child or animal won't disappear entirely; that it will come back to visit, to share its new life with you; but it's uncertain at the moment of releasing. You don't know what will happen next.

And then, there's death. Releasing a loved one into death is terrifying. It's such a final thing; there aren't any second chances. You don't get to come back and say, I don't like the way I handled that, I'd like to give it another go, please. It's a one shot deal.

I've realized recently that I've subscribed to a rather odd myth about death; I call it odd, because there is evidence all around me that it isn't true, yet it's very strong within me. Here it is: Death won't come if we still have things to do; Death waits for us to finish our unfinished business. It doesn't, of course; people don't always finish things up before they die, and I can't keep death away by not finishing things. My list of things to do, my stash of materials to do them with, my unfinished business, will all outlive me. But hard as that is to accept, it's harder still to accept that being busy, that having things I must do, will not keep those I love from dying.

I've just released a song that has been waiting around, unfinished, for quite some time now. It's not a big song, it's a silly little song, but it's special to me. It started as a challenge to myself. I had been in a rut, writing very sad songs, and I wanted to write something that wasn't quite so miserable. I hadn't a clue what to write about, so I asked my friends for ideas. Several were given, but my favorite came in the form of a blog post from my friend, Linda.

Linda has cancer. A particularly aggressive form that will take her life, sooner rather than later. And yet, I held onto that song, dithering about the music, not finishing it, as if that would keep her alive. As if holding onto that song and not releasing it was holding onto Linda and not releasing her. That won't work, of course. Not releasing the song only means that Linda won't hear it. It's not perfect; it's not even as good as I would like it to be. But it's out there.

Linda, I'm following your inspiration: I'm living in the moment, I'm living in this moment. I'm releasing this song.


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