Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sounds of Silence

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Thankfully, I got to visit one of my favorite places during my most beloved season this year- my grandparents' home! Why is this place so special? I don't have enough time to explain. In short, it's because so many memories were made on these grounds. It's where the people I love dwell and where I ran through the woods uninhibited during the days of my youth. See my previous post(s) 'To Grandmother's House We Go'- then maybe you'll see why there is no place that compares to this one.

 Journey with me now- to an Autumn day, to a place that will always feel like home...

Trees have just begun to shed their leafy coverings, which fall silently to the ground. Sounds of wind chimes echo through the air, filling it with melodic rhythms that sound time's passing. These chimes have been at my grandparents' house since I was a little girl and their ringing has always been music to my ears. 

Mamaw recently gave me a set of chimes for my birthday. I'd fallen in love with the set she had that played notes in the key of E. I questioned her about where she'd purchased her set and after she answered, I kind of forgot what she said and how beautiful the music was that her magical chimes had played.

 I freaked out with enthusiasm when I opened my present this year to see a set of chimes that resembled those I'd coveted during my last visit to her house. There they sat in my hands, thoughtfully wrapped in tissue paper and birthday packaging...

MY own wind chimes. The BEST wind chimes. Whatever set of wind chimes you have- No matter how great you think they are- MINE are better. They sound notes in the key of C that make you feel as if you're listening to angels' singing. 

Mamaw and Papa are so thoughtful like that. I'm not sure if Papa did the shopping for this particular birthday present but he's still wonderful, too. Mamaw has always been an exceptionally great gift-giver. She remembers the little things you say about what you like. She remembers things that you don't even remember saying. Then, she gives you a gift that nearly makes you want to cry. 

Sure, wind chimes may be a silly reason for tears but my reaction to receiving this gift is explainable. I was moved by the uniqueness and thoughtfulness that my shiny new chimes represented. To me, their sound resonates with memories of happiness and love. Echoes of memories play in my mind now, each time the wind blows and I think of my family. I am reminded of what is truly important and precious. I feel grateful, happy, and loved when I hear my chimes playing.  As they dance in the wind, so does my heart.

I'm going to have to think really hard to give Mamaw and Papa a gift that would even compare to this one, huh?

I've walked down this path hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times. I used to skip every other stone when I was little. Sometimes, I still do that- just for the heck of it. Years ago, if I missed a landing while pretending the stones were surrounded by hot lava, I had to start all over at the beginning of the path. I gave myself three chances to make it all the way down to the stepping stone's end as I hopped from square to square. Like Mario, I had three lives. There were no 1-UP mushroom chances if I failed my mission. My imagination grew then like the trees in the forest which surrounded me. 
At 25-years-old, when standing in this place, it still does. 

Fond memories are sometimes forgotten in our grown-up world, aren't they? It isn't until we revisit them that we remember fond moments of our past. As I stood here, I thought about how much I have changed. As years went by, I stopped skipping from stone to stone. I increased my already too-hurried pace as I trudged down the same path that had once been threatened by imaginary lava. I didn't look around at the beauty that was so evident. I became too focused on what task I needed to complete next, what place I needed to go, and where I wanted to be. All those hurried trips I took during my transition into adulthood would later be regretted, for everything I was looking for had been here all along. I realized that a few years ago. 

 Slow down, you move too fast, got to make the morning last. 
- Simon and Garfunkel, 59th Street Bridge Song 

I was reminded again at this visit, when I looked again at the blue stepping stone pathway, that I needed to slow down. I decided to try my childhood stone-skipping mission again. Dressed in my Catwoman costume, I had a bit of trouble because my tall-heeled boots were unsuitable for avoiding lava. Yes, I was dressed as Catwoman. It all makes sense, don't worry. 

Mom and I had stopped to visit Mamaw and Papa before heading to my Aunt Tina's Halloween party. My grandparents don't celebrate Halloween- a decision that I will never understand, as I LOVE holiday celebrations of every sort. Since they would not be attending our annual costumed celebration, Mom and I decided to arrive in-costume. Even though my stone-skipping ability had declined severely, my imagination ran wild as it had during my youth. 

Standing here, dressed as Catwoman, had not ever been done. A new memory was made as my grandmother's chimes blew joyfully in the autumn air, sounding welcoming tones for my return to the path that's always lead my heart home.

Vivid oranges and yellows exude now from the forest leaves, which flutter in cool autumn breezes. Flowers which once grew abundantly during warm months are fewer now in number. A calm silence has befallen our garden path, whose stones have become cool to the touch. Shadows increase as the sun prepares for its daily retreat into vibrantly colored blankets of hills. Darkness will announce its arrival within the hours that follow, announcing Fall's encumbered burden of shorter days. Luckily, Catwoman does not fear darkness. She greets it as she stands in a beautiful garden, whose daytime beauty starkly contrasts with her dark figure and all nightly shadows she brings.

Though stealth and coordination are typical characteristics of Catwoman, they were not evidenced by my imitation. How she ever got around Gotham in those boots will forever remain a mystery to me. Luckily, my ankles withstood my stone-skipping trials. Any other missions that require more agility should be assigned to the real Catwoman, especially if she's still going to wear those impractical boots.

As I stood here listening with my pointed ears, I thought of a song to describe the eerie, yet beautiful quietness that surrounded me...

"In restless dreams I walked alone 
Down narrow streets of cobblestone 
'Neath the halo of a street lamp 
I turned my collar to the cold and damp 
When my eyes were stabbed 
by the flash of A neon light
 that split the night 
 And touched the sound of silence"
This song has always held great meaning to me, personally. Lyrics are applicable to my life and they may not be related to by others. After trying to explain why this song is perfect for this blog post, I became frustrated. I couldn't describe it all in the eloquent manner I'd anticipated. However, I found words used by better-versed writer(s), who I completely agree with about this song's meaning. One should never underestimate Wiki-Answers, except when siting sources for a college paper. (Been there, trust my advice.) 

For a full analysis, click here ----> What do lyrics mean?- Sounds of Silence

The following is an excerpt from the above link to lyric interpretations:

"So I think that a holistic universal meaning to the song is one that we are searching for (truth, guidance) and it is already right under our noses. We walk by the truth (on subway walls and tenement halls) everyday and take no note but rather we construct elaborate gods and complicated idols to interpret a reality we are, by definition, already in tune with. The title of the song itself seems to me to reflect that paradox.

I am aware Simon in an NPR interview has admitted there was no profoundly deep meaning to the lyrics when he wrote them. He said he was possibly expressing teenage angst and frustration as to how they are largely ignored by society, however, my interpretation I think is one to give clarity to the stream of consciousness with analogous symbols (where I didn't ramble too much) and largely holds true to that theme."

 Well said, Wiki. I concur. :)

I had searched for truth and guidance during my teenage years, often in a rebellious and sometimes self-destructive manner. Everything I had been looking for had been right in front of me all along. Many teenagers have similar experiences and I know that not everyone has a happy ending to the confusion and difficulty of adolescence. I was lucky to have the support of my family during the years I spent trying to find myself. I am immensely grateful for this.

I did not express my gratitude or appreciation for those closest to me until I reached my mid-20's. Thankfully, I was forgiven by those who had always loved me unconditionally. My parents, grandparents, and several other key family members, knew who I was even when I'd forgotten. They believed in my potential and encouraged me with their acknowledgement of my strengths and talents. They told me I could do everything when I thought I couldn't do anything. They insisted that I was important and refused to accept my objections or self-deprecations. Because of all they did, I now believe in me, too. 

I stand triumphantly here, dressed as Catwoman, at the end of the stone pathway. Many stones were tripped over along the way before I arrived here. With each misstep, I kept going. My mother and grandmother followed behind me, much as they did on roads of uncertainty during my life's journey. They encouraged me and I finally arrived here because of them. 

For that, I am blessed.

 Everyone needs the support of superheroes- even Catwoman. 
"I could give you more happiness than anyone in the world." 

"How do you propose to do that?"
"By being your partner in life, I mean it's me and you against the world." 
"Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
- Mark Twain Notebook, 1894

"What are stumbling blocks and defeat before you, can be stepping stones to victory if you remain determined." 
- Author Unknown.

Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.  
~Henry David Thoreau

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.
- Henry David Thoreau

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give. 
- E.O. Wilson

...I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.  ~Elizabeth Lawrence

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made.  The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."

-   Eric Sloane

I suppose an artist takes the elements of his life and rearranges them and then has them perceived by others as though they were the elements of their lives. 
- Paul Simon 

 Preserve your memories, they're all that's left of you. 
- Simon and Garfunkel, Bookends

 It seems to me that at nineteen or twenty, a young man is burning to be great at something. I was. You have a vision that's beyond the neighborhood. You want to make a mark while you're alive. You don't know exactly your future, but you want to be great at it. And greatness is an important word.

-Art Garfunkel


And every stranger's face I see
Reminds me that I long to be, homeward bound.

-Paul Simon
(Homeward Bound)

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
-Paul Simon
(Bridge Over Troubled Water)

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