The eyes in the room, they’re all looking at the star…. their butts are all shaking to the bass guitar, mmmhmm…” - Todd Snider
With one simple lyric, Todd Snider depicted a snapshot of the striking difference in tone that exists between our Soul Energies and our Ego Energies. On the daily, our eyes and minds take in a barrage of stimuli and process millions of thoughts that determine our levels of ‘fear’ and ‘joy’, while informing whether we feel ‘safe’ and ‘happy’. Our bodies absorb both the affects and the effects of the constant feelings that pass through them, and if we don’t develop some practice of ‘clearing’ them, the uncomfortable ones find purchase somewhere in our physical makeup, creating dis-ease, and putting us at risk for the same. Some of the time, we are ‘aware of the emotions’, but often we are ‘hiding from the emotions’. In fact, we are most often doing both of those things at the same time! Our learned responses will eventually fly on auto-pilot, rarely seeking input about their path. The resulting mind-body disengagement finds opportunities to reconnect through music and movement.
Only with intention, (human or divine), do our minds and bodies actually work in concert to make it all happen. Our Egos are designed to ‘rule’ this process, and have evolved to be pretty damn good at their jobs (as an Energy, a Voice, a Scale, and/or a Protector). They have become so good in fact, that we appear specifically challenged to hear the distant, steady beat that emanates from each of us as human beings. Our Souls exist in the same four expressions, but they do it with much more subtlety; playing the long game while reflecting back to us the passion and purpose we brought with us for our journey through this life. In a noble effort to ‘control’ our lives, our Egos fail to utilize the ‘natural, individual blueprint’ that each of us came into the world with hopes to ‘realize’ for ourselves. At the same time, our Souls remain constant and steady–revealing ‘coincidences’ that we may or may not interpret to mean anything at all, and keeping ‘our butts all shaking to the bass guitar…” for the entirety of our lives, whether we can see it or not!
My love for Todd Snider is no secret if you know me at all. In many ways, he has helped me to ‘grow up’, although his own desire to NOT do that very thing has shaped his soul-shaking career in music. At 56, his experiences place him firmly among the ranks of ‘folk rock legends’. Still, he continues to make the case for ‘being legend’ by living every ounce of the stories he chooses to tell. Enjoying as much of the ride as he possibly can, Todd Snider is a ‘perfect’ study in the Pillar of Wholeness. Although I know he’d enjoy a laugh at the idea of him serving as a ‘role model-style’ Mentor, I can prove that he has been, (at least to me), by sharing his own lyrics in what I have titled the Todd Snider 'for' ORM. Compiled during the height of Covid, I took several lyrics from his first 4 albums and presented them as ‘guidance’ for using each of the 12 Pillars. He was doing a weekly Sunday morning show at the time, Live from The Purple Room, sharing the stories and songs colored by the experiences of his week, plus whatever anyone asked for on social media that he felt like playing. He was searching for connection and ways to provide meaning in a world that often seems to be making less sense with each passing day. His loose, easy vibe makes his audience feel connected in a way that truly resembles what I remember loving about Church when I was younger–the feeling of being connected to something bigger than myself – and that at the root of everything, that thing seemed to have my back. In my life, that support has come in the forms of people, music, and ‘supercool natural occurrences’ that have transported me from the ordinary of my life to the extraordinary of my imagination, over and over again.
As a small child, the music of Simon and Garfulkel evoked that same feeling in me,
“First thing I remember, I was lying in my bed. Couldn’t have been no more than one or two… And I remember there was a radio coming from the room next door, and my mother laughed the way some ladies do… when it’s late in the evening… and the music’s seeping through…”. I remember being comforted by the sounds of their voices and their lyrics, which were probably just out of reach from my actual understanding. The song Cecilia is about a cheating woman who is breaking his heart, and even though I was singing along to the words, the upbeat style and tone made it feel like a happy song to me. I don’t believe I ever considered the subject matter until I was older. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy) was a childhood anthem, Scarborough Fair felt like a nursery rhyme that probably nurtured my current love of growing herbs, and Bookends is among the ‘All-Time Songs’ in my world.
I graduated high school the year Paul Simon released Graceland, and as I’ve mentioned before, that album made me feel incredibly alive in a world I had only begun to discover. I viewed his ‘struggle’ to make the music during Apartheid as creative genius, and I placed great value in the musicians who came on that tour with him. It felt magical to me. The concert from Africa was full of music I had never heard, but coming from a beloved artist I had trusted with my innermost thoughts and feelings. The energy coming through my television was palpable, and even though I didn’t see the show live, I have rewatched the performances, imagining myself in the crowd, and feeling the energy that I know was present for those people lucky enough to have their bodies right up next to it.
Listening to live music elevates the energy in the room, and helps to bring down our collective defenses. We breathe more easily when we are singing along. Prior to Covid, we all did this with wild abandon at packed shows; the encores drawing all the energy in the venue to the crescendo of the final song, people brought together in musical communion, bonded for just that moment... Post-Covid, breathing itself has become complicated, even causing fear for many human beings. Personally, I’m receiving it as a sign that we should be focused on the exhales right now. Holding our breath keeps us unconsciously separate from whatever we are close to, and it’s easy to do that without knowing it. When we are dancing or swaying to the baseline, our butts are unconsciously expressing our own internal rhythm. They feel an honest ‘call to action’ in these conditions, our natural beat keeping organic time with the music…
What do Todd Snider and Paul Simon have in common, you might be asking? I’ll start with the fact that they are both Libras and they both make up songs that offer emotional balance for the many different thoughts and feelings we encounter. I remember when I learned that Paul Simon shared my birthday (October 13), I felt the pull of my Soul like I knew I was connected to him, and when he married Edie Brickell (who I also loved), I was over the moon for them. I met Todd Snider’s then-girlfriend Melita Osheowitz once and got to share a little astrology insight with them. I remember hoping they each had a partner for their road ahead, because I could tell they both wanted that for themselves, even if they weren’t sure how to be it. Even after Paul and Edie wound up in the tabloids following a fight, and Todd and Melita ended their marriage, I can still feel a deep sense of passion and purpose in those two relationships, and since that is the kind of shit I live for in my own life, I’m drawn to it… I should also point out right here that I don’t actually ‘know’ any of these people. Their own vulnerabilities with words and music have let me feel like we share the same Soul/Ego awareness, and they each remind me, in differing ways, to keep my values list handy and be ready for whatever is going to happen next.
Last week, my Dad mentioned the Simon & Garfunkel song Sounds of Silence that came on in the background while he was reading my Mentors blog. I went and reviewed the lyrics, remembering that although I’ve always liked the song, I have never fully understood what Paul might have meant when he wrote it. Turns out, he was 21 and he wrote it in the bathroom of his parents house. He turned on the water, closed his eyes, and listened to the sounds that can only become present when you shut out the stimulus that your eyes are taking in, and welcome the difference in tones.
The opening of the song, “Hello Darkness, my old friend…I've come to talk with you again…because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision, that was planted in my brain, still remains…within the sounds of silence…” , asks us to notice what’s inside our own minds when we close out everything else, and to not be afraid in there. Using that space to dream about the ideal world we’d like to see, can support the actual conditions that we live with.
As I was listening to The Sounds of Silence and pulling the concept for this blog together, it was raining outside. My husband, Fred, was outside in the rain tending the yard. He popped his head in and asked me to come outside. With a big, shiny smile, he asked me to sit in a chair under our pergola. He said, “close your eyes for a minute and just listen to the natural symphony”. The sounds resonating straight from nature, mixed with our busy street, was powerful and beautiful. It made me remember to breathe. And exhale with intention. It was right after I went inside that I learned Paul wrote that song with the water running, his eyes closed, listening to the beauty… I will take that memory into my own silent thoughts, as I continue to balance the energies of my ego with the passion of my soul. Turn it up!