If you don't know Linda Ronstadt, any time is a good time to get on board. Hers is a voice that shaped an entire age of music.
Sidebar: Those backup singers.
In recent years, this powerhouse voice has been silenced by a 2012 Parkinson's diagnosis. I watched an interview with her recently where she talked so eloquently about her lifelong love of music and, more importantly, of musicians. To paraphrase parts of her 2014 CBS San Francisco interview, she talked about music being an art form, that in order to practice, one has to be equal parts active and passive. If you're going to study how to play music, you're going to have to learn how to listen to it. Is there any other way to go through life?
This has started me thinking on how many times in life I feel either of these two opposite actions. When do I feel most passive? When I am being talked down to by uppity, rich women at my job? When faced with some sort of adversity? And when am I at my most active? Actually doing "the thing"? Putting a plan in place and seeing it through? Do I work well with others? What are others impressions of me when we're working together? Do I take on a leadership role well? Listening to others (passive), while making sure we stay on task and get our work done (action)? We must all balance this every day.
I think about women in the kitchen at the Jackson Family Barbecue on the 4th of July "helping" my mother. They are her friends. Friends for years. But they await instruction from her before adding any ingredient. "Well, you know how your mother likes her potato salad. I'm waiting for her to tell me how much celery salt to add."
I think of those people unable to make a decision. I am oftentimes one of them, as my recent meltdown over trying to pack for my vacation next week has shown. What of the people for whom great anxiety arises with just the simple choice of what to have for dinner or what movie to watch or hotel to stay in? What happens to them? These things can be crippling. When we venture too far into either of these realms, passive or active, we can become a difficult force to reckon with.
The reporter in this CBS interview asked Linda how she felt about the Parkinson's diagnosis sidelining her ability to sing. Such a weird question. But a total "reporter question", if you know what I mean. Without missing a beat, she said "Well, you've been able to walk your entire life, right? Imagine you woke up one day and someone had taken away your ability to walk. How would you feel?" Sure, you may enjoy sitting, but how long can that go on without the other half of you?
I mean....Look at that hair.
I think about watching my temper in situations that come up. I think about how I feel walking through a crowded New York City street at rush hour, or on the subway. I can feel my fists balling up and tension mounting. How do I take action when the passivity I'm taking part in due to what is around me, is actively shaking me up so very much? There are days when I can beat myself up for being too passive, and others I can feel like I've overstepped a boundary with too much forcefulness and thoughts of "I shouldn't have said that".
What's funny? I always turn to music. Good music. Hell, bad music too. It calms me. Soothes the savage beast, like the ancients said it was supposed to. I can get lost in the rhythms, the lyrics. I can spend hours wondering what Jolene actually looked like when Dolly Parton wrote about her. Sidebar: I've always been fascinated with Dolly saying "Please don't take my man". She said PLEASE! She's polite, even when she rightfully could cut a bitch. Talk about active AND passive.
For me ...An iPod, a good music library, and I'm on my way. I'm creating a music video in my head wherever I go. I wonder what other people use to relax themselves. Massage therapy being about transference of energy, I put my hands on bodies every day that are not at rest and they scare me. Not knowing what to use to relax yourself could be viewed as a serious problem. I like to think of it this way. Maybe that person hasn't yet discovered what it is for them. They will. It's a natural progression. It's coming. I understand. Like the song says "The Best is Yet to Come".