Making melodies out of the humdrum.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Push and Pull

I have been listening to this song lately called "Big Strong Girl" by Deb Talan.  The title feels like a bit of an afterthought, for such an esoteric piece (no offense, Deb) but I sure am glad that I didn't overlook it.  I am a total sucker for Itunes' whole, "listeners who bought this, also liked...".  Gets me every time, and that's how I found this one.  Sometimes, my playlists are better for it, sometimes, it makes them feel a twinge off (who is this? where did this song come from?) Anyways, "Big Strong Girl" has it made it to many-a-playlist this spring season, and with it the other songs in the playlist line up with an easy deliberation, kind of like the way you need that corner puzzle piece for the big picture, or, the point, to emerge. 

It's no secret that letting go is rough. And in so many words, and rhythms, and melody and all the other things that make music flow straight to our gut, that's what this song is about. "Don't push so hard against the world" she sings,  and then onto a bit about "laying down the best made plans." All of this-- this forgoing of the very home-made plans that pull us out of our beds and into the shower, and onto the day that we hope to nestle into with our good intentions is quite counterintuitive.  And when we are forced to forgo, oftentimes by some great tragedy outside of ourselves, we are ridden with the kind of angst that leaves us writhing and senseless like a two year old who says he can do it himself when hello, he wet his pull-ups last night.  

But, the way this song really hits me over the head? Aforementioned "big strong girl's" exhaustion.  Sure, grief is tiring- the tantrums and the kicking and the like. But the song speaks  of a dogged e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-o-n.  I see this very vivid image of a young woman heaving the world up a hill. Her "world" looks more like a boulder, but it's green-ish and blue-ish, maybe like a globe-boulder? Kind of lame, I know.  But she's being kind of lame. You know why? Because the true world is all around her and she's missing it. She is trudging up and through this perfect bucolic scene- meadows and breeze and well, life.  Her trudging isn't natural. No, not natural at all to keep pushing when all of the Earth is calling you back to it. And quite frankly, big strong girl, it's kind of arrogant to ignore it.  

I'm learning that so many important things in this life are governed by a push and a pull. Relationships. Intimacy. Being a mother. Being a daughter. Listening. I'm no expert, but my hunch is that there's a lot of: two steps forward, one step back. Push n' Pull. It sounds like a game, like a see-saw or a teeter-totter or a slip n' slide.  And it sort of is I guess, a dance maybe, but like the Latinos will tell you,  you have to feel the music to dance the music. In other words, you must let go.  Make yourself a conduit to something bigger and greater-- whether it's the rhythm of the tango or self-sacrificial love, it seems like you just kind of have to go with it, into it that is, to know when to push and when to pull. 

Big strong girl on the hill? She wasn't really going with it, she was going against it, like the song says.  And because I am, in so many beats, the girl on the hill, I beg God for mercy and wisdom when it comes to the ol' Push n' Pull.  Breathing in and breathing out helps.  It sounds trite, but please don't clump my thoughts with the whole yogilates, simple living, "just breathe" tag-line. Richard Rohr, one of my favorite Christian speakers and teachers says that breathing gives us everything (life) out of nothing (emptiness). Everything out of nothing? There's a juxtaposition for you. But juxtaposition or not, it's really no matter. We breathe and are filled. And there is air all around us so we mustn't fret. 

So sometimes, when I sit still in prayer all muddled by life, I get pulled in.  Pulled into grace that makes me so satisfied with things like truth and peace and hope.  And in these enveloping moments, to think that I could ever get all bothered and pushy? Well, that would be as intelligent as voluntarily cutting off my air supply. And that's just it.  Grace is the air we breathe on the meadow-y hill, in the midst of heartache, or swishing our partner to the tango. We cannot help but be born into it like we are born into life itself.  Thank you, to the God who makes it so, and thank you, that getting pulled in is, in these moments at least, as natural as, well, breathing.