May 27th, 2016
We woke up groggily this morning to the sound of rain pattering our windows and a slight draft slipping beneath our doors, penetrating our cozy little nest of warmth and solitude and prompting us to double check our calendars. Summer may be just around the corner, but it seemed this bleak and dreary morning had somehow slipped away from some future November and crept back in time to rap on our windows and tease our senses. And though we will enjoy this one last blast of cool relief before we enter the blazing furnace that is Oklahoma in summertime, we know that its visit will be short-lived and that we will soon bemoan its swift return back to the autumns of tomorrow.
So as we stared out into our sopping backyard, counting the rivulets of moisture lazily rolling down foggy panes, we decided a sweet, sleepy morning such as this simply demanded a little extra grandiose. We plugged in our waffle iron, hauled step stools out of cabinets, and sipped on coffee and milk while talking, laughing, mixing, pouring, and loading our plates with the piping hot food of the gods we like to call “carbohydrates.” The soft dialogue of an animated rendition of Charlotte’s Web (Laynie’s current favorite) was floating in from the living room, and as I bid farewell to the early morning silence I adore so much, embracing instead the noise and chaos that invariably accompanies the process of instructing a 4-year-old and 19-month-old in the fine art of waffle making, I realized with sudden clarity that this… This is my symphony.
I recently listened to a speech delivered by one of my personal heroes, one who shares my profound love of words and metaphor and creativity and beauty and the art of bringing forth life through letters on a page, and I felt my bones ignite within me. The past few months have found me fighting my way through a deep, dark valley, the place I go when my purpose is forgotten and my motivation is weak, when my heart grows so heavy and burdened and overwhelmed by the darkness pressing in at all sides that I feel I will never again pen a single worthwhile word, never again form a complete, coherent sentence.
(A normal person would probably call this valley “writer’s block.” But as you both can attest, I am anything but a normal person.)
This speech employed music as the metaphor for our lives, our gifts, our callings, and my parched, cracked spirit gulped the words like our overgrown crepe myrtle is hungrily gulping the raindrops still falling steadily outside.
“You begin to wonder if this fragile little melody you have been given can even make a dent…”
“The Creator, the Composer of time and space has answered you with wordless beauty, ‘You matter, YOU MATTER.’ And there is a void in the symphony of life when you are silent.”
“The pain, the anger, the frustration, the dissonance… be brave. Sing through it, be brave, and sing the truth one note at a time.”
I felt afresh the burning desire to write, the urge to call forth and give shape to the countless words, ideas, and phrases always begging me to give them a voice. I felt the pressure to create, to somehow transfer this grand symphony floating round and round my brain onto paper, to witness the physical manifestation of insight and inspiration and flights of fancy.
But my song is different.
There are no discernible responses to my symphony. No audience listening with bated breath, no resounding applause, no critical acclaim. Very few even know this melody exists, even know that it’s being slowly, painstakingly written on our hearts day in and day out, note by fragile note.
There are days it feels much too difficult for my meager skill level, and days it feels much too easy. Days when I say, “Excuse me, but this is not the song I planned on playing.” I long to create a piece de resistance, a thing of such unparalleled beauty that I would know without a doubt my life has mattered, has made a difference, has somehow amounted to more than the sum of its very humble, very broken parts.
But my symphony was never intended for packed auditoriums, discerning ears, or sophisticated tastes. My song is still being hammered out in the day-to-day, still struggling through wrong notes and dissonant melodies and monotony and seemingly endless tasks and responsibilities.
My symphony is the patter of tiny toes on hardwood floors, the splish-splash of bathwater at the end of a long and exhausting day. It is the vibrant peal of girlish giggles and camaraderie floating from the playroom, the hushed hum of sniffles and hurt feelings and apologies and kisses. My masterpiece is the sound of Laynie offering to help Crosbie with her shoes, the sound of Crosbie murmuring, “Tane too, Yaynie,” and the shrieks of joy from both of you every time Daddy walks in the door.
It’s the steady drizzle of raindrops on lazy Friday mornings, the low whir of beaters in waffle batter, the gentle swish of taffeta twirls, the wails and whimpers of yet another injury that requires gentle tending.
My symphony plays loud and resplendent throughout the four walls of this tiny home we love so much, pulses and moves and courses through the four chambers of this heart that relishes each note and each perfectly wild stanza.
But to the rest of the world, my symphony is silent.
They strain to catch the cadence of its melody, listen intently for the rise and fall of crescendos and diminuendos, but ultimately shake their heads and move along, hungry for the lilt and sway of another’s song.
There are days I long for my symphony to be heard. I am full to bursting with notes and ideas and dynamics and harmonies, full of creative inspiration that fairly shouts, “This could be something! This could really make a difference!”
But the Conductor simply smiles at my passion and whispers, Not yet.
There are days I bemoan the fact that I’m not really doing anything with my life, days I worry that this season of tending littles will inadvertently cause my creativity to dry up and wither away, lost forever on the breeze of someone else’s drive and motivation and success.
And the Conductor whispers, A symphony is no less beautiful when it’s played for an audience of One.
There are days I fall into bed in tears, wallowing in self-pity and defeat because, although I cherish each moment with you, my greatest blessings, I am also a creation that longs to create. And when the day’s pulls and demands determine that I did not lay a single word on paper, I worry that I am somehow mismanaging my gifts, that the ability to keep up with the rigorous demands of both motherhood and the compelling urge to create is simply beyond my reach.
And the Conductor whispers, Oh, my child.
The symphony I have written for you will change and grow and transform over time. But I have given you each note you need for today.
I have purposefully and painstakingly crafted this song. And though you sometimes feel unseen and unheard and utterly anonymous, this work you are doing, this home you are keeping, these hearts you are tending… THIS is a magnum opus that moves my heart and stirs my senses and brings me glory.
Your melody matters. And someday I may choose to share it with the world. Or I may choose to forever guard it privately and safely within the hearts of the two curly-headed little girls who inspire and soak up its beauty each day.
But wherever your symphony is played, know that it is good and it is beautiful and it is pleasing to me.
Trust me. Because this masterpiece matters.
In the ears of the world, my dear ones, our symphony is silent.
But in the ears of our Conductor, it is resounding and magnificent and breathtaking and true.
And that is a song worth playing.
I love you every day,