Ten Percent More Responsible

I recently listened to a Ten Percent Happier podcast interview with Sara Bareilles (a creator of songs, among other things (in that she is other things in addition to a creator of songs, and also in that she creates other things in addition to songs) (which took a really long time to think through in order to write, sentence-wise, and might not have been worth it))). I didn’t know her songs or albums at all. I’d heard of Waitress in that I knew there was a musical called Waitress. So it was a “come for the Buddhism, stay for the art” kind of situation. And one idea really landed, which is a thing that Dan Harris, of Ten Percent Happier, likes to say, or ask (“Does any of that land with you?”). 

The thing that landed: in Sara’s view, songwriters have a profound responsibility to Others Who Have Feelings, i.e. everyone, but don’t have the particular gift of making things out of/on behalf of/about/near/with those Feelings, (I am making this sound dumb; it is SO NOT dumb,) to—my words about her ideas—put a pin in those particular processes on their behalf so they can be dealt with, approached, more fully experienced. So one can say—my words here, too, but her ideas, I hope—I Am Not The Only One, and feel enabled to take up space and breathe and exist with dignity. 

I think this is right. I think this is what songs and music and other Made Things have been for me: oh wow, I get that, I would say. Like, really get that. And it makes things better. I don’t exactly know why a mirrored feeling should be helpful in that way, much less a “trick mirrored” feeling, as it is someone else’s particular flavor of whatever it is we think we are get-ing. But it is helpful. I would even extend that reading into makers of things. By which I mean that in the same way made things can validate and support emotional and other kinds of processes that are deeply human, makers of things can validate and support the desire to make things in itself. (I suppose we could keep some kind of infinite loop going if we wanted to, stepping out further and further, sort of the conceptual opposite of those parentheses I struggled with in paragraph one, symmetry unintentional (or is it?)). 

So I am trying out the idea that there is actually some good in doing what I do with myself, for money and for love, in a very practical, pragmatic sense. Could I write a song that someone would listen to and then say “thanks for that, I get it and that getting it makes me feel like I am here and you are there but we are together”? To pull it back to where it begins versus where it ends up: could I write a song because it is a/the responsible thing to do? What about writing about writing songs OR, in this case: what about writing about writing about writing songs? As in: you have received this letter and it is my sincere hope that it will mean something (obviously), but in a very specific way: that you will read this as if you wrote it, as if there is some congruence that we are coming into, and that even though it is refracted through my particular prism—or even because it is refracted in that way—it blows up into colors that you can see? 

I bathe you in resplendent light,