Can We Slow It Down?

 

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Although spring is just arriving here in the greater Boston area, I am deeply aware of how quickly it will pass.

Yesterday I was celebrating the 22 crocus flowers in my front yard.

And today there are only 9…

Someone nibbled the rest of them down to the ground overnight!

I do not begrudge anyone (rabbit? skunk? possum? squirrel? raccoon? rat?) an early spring feast.

But it was a reminder of how life changes… and sometimes much too quickly.

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A couple of weeks ago I was asked by the pianist/songwriter Molly Ruggles to share a few songs during a Sunday morning service at the Unitarian Universalist church in Medford, MA.

It’s a beautiful building — with lots of stained glass windows and gently curving pews — and the congregation is very welcoming.

One of the longstanding members of the church is someone I worked with at my very first job after dropping out of college. He and I have reconnected a little bit in recent years due to a shared interest in music and poetry — and it was a pleasure to see him before and after the service.

The minister, Reverend Marta Valentin, was planning a sermon about the value of observing some sort of Sabbath in one’s life.

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I immediately started thinking about standards which might fit this theme, such as “Up A Lazy River” by Hoagy Carmichael and Sidney Arodin or “Bidin’ My Time” by the Gershwin Brothers.

But it also occurred to me that a couple of my original songs might fit the theme, too.

With some shyness, I sent them — “Can We Slow It Down” and “The Beauty All Around” — to Molly for consideration.

Much to my delight, she liked them and forwarded them to Reverend Marta, who also liked them.

In fact, Reverend Marta visited my blog and found another original song, “May Your Life Be Blessed,” which she asked us to include in the service.

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Needless to say, I found this entire experience to be a much-needed affirmation that my original songs can be meaningful to people other than myself…

It was also exciting because I had been thinking that I could only perform my original songs in public with Doug Hammer (who is playing in the recording at the top of this page) at the piano with me.

I write songs using a ukulele — which I play very rudimentarily — and then flesh them out with Doug at his recording studio north of Boston. And Doug has performed many of them with me in different showcases during the past few years.

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So it was a revelation that another pianist would be able to bring them to life as well as Molly did (with very little rehearsal)!

The service itself was very satisfying, too.

My songs — especially “Can We Slow It Down?” — almost seemed as though they had been written to complement the Reverend Marta’s sermon.

Hurrah!

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As I have probably noted in previous blog posts, there is a thriving ukulele Meetup community in the greater Boston area.

I attend a group which meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesday night of each month and another which meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesday afternoon of each month.

Most ukulele Meetup groups include a humble — and very supportive — open-mic period where attendees can share a song they’ve been working on.

This is the main place I have dared to share my original songs during the past few years.

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After I played “Can We Slow It Down?” two weeks ago, a couple of fellow ukulele attendees asked me if I might post it somewhere.

So this post is created for them!

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Thank you to Molly Ruggles, Reverend Marta, Doug Hammer, and my ukulele-playing peers for their enthusiastic support and encouragement.

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Thank you to Pixabay for some lovely images.

And thank YOU for reading and listening to another blog post.

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I welcome any thoughts/feelings you might have about the pace of life these days…

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23 thoughts on “Can We Slow It Down?

  1. Another thoughtful post, Will. I don’t remember hearing that song at the Third Life Studio in Union Sq. when you performed original music. You’ve been busy. The message is a good reminder to us all to turn off the phone and look around us.

    • Yes. Sometimes I wish there were a way we could turn off urban lighting so that we could see some super starry nights in East Arlington now and then… Thank you for reading and listening!

  2. What a wonderful affirmation–and experience–for you, Will. And your lovely song works perfectly with this thoughtful post.
    Social media takes up so much time–even while bringing connections, such as this one! I know if I hadn’t started a blog, I wouldn’t be writing all the poetry I’ve written. At the same time, one has to make the conscious decision to turn off devices and take a break sometimes to just experience life. (I won’t go into how much I dislike people who text at the movies/theater.) 🙂

    Sorry about your crocuses. They’ll bloom again next year!

    • When technology fosters creativity (“I know if I hadn’t started a blog, I wouldn’t be writing all the poetry I’ve written…”) that seems like a big plus! And yes, spending time with oneself, with others, with nature AND NO DEVICES seems like a very healthy habit. Of course, I did not mention the possible health risks (which I learned more about in a recent radio program) of exposing one’s tissues to varying levels of radiation which most of our magical devices emit… And, not surprisingly we have billion dollar communications companies downplaying any possible concerns, lobbying for less research, etc. etc. etc. Deep breath in! Deep breath out!

  3. Will wonderful song. You are a good old fashioned song writer (That is meant to be a compliment) Great lyrics and a true facility for melody. Don’t know if you will be insulted but It reminded me a little of the feel of some Jobriath Boone songs- I was a massive fan. great feel. Cheers Mate.

    • I am going to look up Jobriath Boone and learn more about his/her/their songs! I DO strive for accurate rhymes and hummable melodies. And I spend a LOT of time reading about — and performing songs by — the songwriters from the 1920s-1960s; so some of their goals and practices may have rubbed off on me? THANK YOU for listening and reading AND leaving a comment!!!

  4. Congratulations, Will, on getting your work out there and valued. It’s about time, I say! Wonderful song, and meaningful thoughts shared.

    Can we slow it down? We can, if we want to. But it’s difficult to find the balance between hospitable engagement with the world, and necessary breathing space for one’s creative work and the need for self-care and spiritual/emotional growth, both of which require their time and place.

    The Benedictines have been successfully paying attention to this not-so-modern dilemma for 1500 years. I’m attempting, sometimes moderately successfully and sometimes barely successfully, to incorporate their practices into my life. It’s one way; not the only way to find the awareness to live more fully alive.

    • THANK YOU for reading and listening and writing a thoughtful comment! This is a great paragraph: “Can we slow it down? We can, if we want to. But it’s difficult to find the balance between hospitable engagement with the world, and necessary breathing space for one’s creative work and the need for self-care and spiritual/emotional growth, both of which require their time and place.” I like the idea of breathing space. It suggests to me that a calmer, more centered mind/heart could be as simple/accessible as remembering to take a (conscious/grateful) breath. It’s also reassuring to be reminded that others have been “paying attention to this not-so-modern dilemma for 1500 years.” Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

      • Space — a good concept. There’s also the notion that a particular “peaceful” place/space, visited regularly and reserved only for the work of centering, meditating, praying, or whatever one chooses to call it, creates a well of “slow-down” inside of us, which we can more easily access when we’re “out there,” if we have developed the habit of creating in peace in our peaceful place.

    • Thank you, too, for listening and reading and writing a comment, Jennie. Yesterday I shared another song at one of the ukulele Meetup groups, and was gently surprised to have a couple of people respond that the song had some resonance for them. I hold your affirmative words carefully and gratefully as I let them sink in…

  5. Will, you carve paths thru everyday issues and it becomes a philosophical journey. We love your style (s). 😘

    • THANK YOU for continuing to listen and read, J!!! I write most of my songs for myself, and then am delighted/surprised/relieved if/when they have any resonance for someone else…

  6. From reading your posts and seeing the photos you so carefully choose to illustrate your points, it seems to me you’ve learned to live this philosophy of slowing down and appreciating the lovely, simple things in life! I’m glad you’re finding ways to share this with others and that you’re being positively reinforced for doing so!

    • Your comment about positive reinforcement is very astute. I have been (happily) surprised to discover that the affirmative feedback I’ve received at the Wednesday afternoon ukulele gathering, for example, has motivated me to re-visit other songs I have written in past years and also to write a few new ones. I also have been wondering if I am more like a hen than I had realized — with my egg/song production being directly influenced by the amount of daylight I experience. Now that the days are getting longer, I am spending more time writing/re-writing/sharing original songs than I did during the winter months… THANK YOU, as always, for reading AND leaving a comment, KerryCan. And for the inspiration of YOUR creative practice…

      • As I have probably written in previous posts, my older sister oversees a flock of 50+ chickens, and she is the one who has shared with me how intimately influenced by sun/light/season her hens are regarding eggs…

  7. I wrote a lengthy reply which didn’t seem to go through so I’ll try again. Thoroughly enjoyed this post Will and the song which has such a great message to accompany the lovely images. Thanks for sharing your light, thoughts and melodies with the world.

    • You are very welcome, Miriam. THANK YOU for making time to listen AND read AND then reply (even though your lengthy version didn’t go through…) I loved the tone and spirit of your latest blog post and look forward to reading many more. I also am fascinated that you are entering autumn while I am entering spring…

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