Black & White

Black and White

When I think of that particular phrase several things ~ P0P ~

Opposites – A Yin and Yang of sorts. The kind that says there is no gray here. The Chinese considered that all things exist as both inseparable yet contradictory opposites. Male-female, dark-light, old-young. There is no middle ground. There is no average or fair. Yet all things circle one another in one great whole. Peacefully intertwined. The yin is the dark swirl, associated with shadows, an encroaching wave, curiosity, the unknown. The yang is the light swirl that represents brightness, passion, growth, anticipation. And on any given day – where am I in this spectrum of living?

Chessmen on a board – Opposing sides in a contemplative yet philosophical battle of wits. The question always hangs unspoken in the air before the match begins: Am I better? Am I smarter? Am I patient enough? Can I refrain from rash and snap judgements that will lead to my undoing? And what are the answers to those questions regarding my opponent? In my relationships whether they be brief, business, personal or lifelong pursuits – those questions still shroud my inner being like a silent mist. Sometimes, most times, I do not remember that they are there. I do not pay much attention to them. Yet if I am honest with myself, I must admit that they carry more weight than that silken mist that carries them.

Pianos – The instrument that is both a primer to music mastery yet a masterpiece of glory to my ears. I have a friend who I consider to be a master here. I find when I hear her play I cannot help myself but to lean back, let my eyes drift to a peaceful close and absorb the beauty she offers as my ears translate the artful blend of sounds, nuances, cadences, the sheer variety of passion that simply draws me in, wraps around me like a comfort to my soul and I float away until the last note sounds and the stillness fades into living again. Breathless. Time in suspension. A much-appreciated pause button for my often frantic life.

Starkness – Contrasts so vivid and obvious that one cannot help to see and either appreciate or bristle at. Sometimes it is a turn in the conversation. Sometimes it is something I witness as a mere bystander. Sometimes it is an unfair dose of grief that seems cruel, hurtful to my soul as undetached from their reality as I am. Starkness can either be severe or an opulence. It is not always a negative for me. The bright night sky with stars ablaze, the deep hues of a glorious sunset, joy so full it spills over into tears that bathe my face in an internal reverence that escapes out of my soul.

Elegance – Classic formal attire that bespeaks affluence, grace, elegance and a sense of status, importance, stateliness. In our daily travels, elegance in our dress is a rarity at best. Much of our wardrobe choosings revolve around comfort, functionality, ease of care. We often sport a jab at the dress code of Walmart goers. But when we see something out of the ordinary – a well-fitted suit with an impeccable tie, a woman who has a flair for fashion that so stands out from the everyday, the ordinary – we take pause and admire the skill, the courage, the power that that image invokes. Do we somehow crave an elegance to living that has faded from our modern scurrying of life? Are we so accustomed to the hurry up of life that we have allowed an elegance to living to become a bygone era?

Photography – Oh the days of old black and while films, right? Given today’s technology impact on film making complete with CGI options and the fast-moving pace of things, when we watch films from decades gone by with their grainy frames and fake night time shots – it humors us! They sped up the horse, they slowed down the river crossings, they kissed passionately on the cheeks. Some are impatient with old films. Some of us just adore them. And what of still photography? With the absence of the distraction of color, one must carefully consume the details, the drama, the subtle nuances of the subject matter. And if it is crafted with a provoking thoughtfulness it can move you to a higher plane, remain with you and nestle down deep into your soul.

Parting thoughts ~ Is anything simply Black and White anymore? Was it ever? Do we really want it to be? I submit that there is great value in the Black and Whites of our world. And I love them.

JMC BW Pocket Watch

A Measure of Music

CEH Piano Mini

Photo Cred to Clarissa, a Masterpiece by her own right

A Measure of Music

18 December 2015

I have often felt very overwhelmed at things and events in my life. This realization personally occurred when I was a young girl of about 12. I was striving to master the piano, as many young kids aim to do. I had a magnificent piano teacher, Ann Dobbins. Her home was beyond lovely, her grand piano was overwhelmingly lovely as well. She was quirky, patient, a smidge pushy when she needed to be and a loveable soul. When she entered my life, I was a new transplant to a new place. It was tough to fit in. I was 12, the only girl in my family of very rowdy brothers (whom I adore to this day) and starting Middle School. I was concerned about lots of stuff. Sure, most of it was trivial to the casual observer, but from my skin-point ~ it was intense! So once a week I would make the meek pilgrimage to her door, rapping timidly and feeling nervous about my weekly accomplishments in the comfort of my own piano at home. She would warmly greet me, usher me in and envelope me in this state of grace and elegance in our new friendship. And progress I did. I was so very proud of who I was becoming, of who I was and what talent (meager, I’m certain) I was blossoming out with. I felt inspired, confident, capable of tough things – a perfect list of ingredients for a newly transplanted Middle School kid from the Dakotas to the heart of Dixie.

Until that one night – that’s the night that my subconscious became a wicked, wicked thief. Picture this: A fancy dress, a jittery nervous girl, an auditorium (theater in the round type), and a massive gleaming grand piano bathed in a bright spotlight. And the rich stillness – the lights are down, the audience is masked but I feel them just the same. I hear the shuffling of the Recital Programs, I can hear the random stifled coughs, the squeak of chair hinges as they fidget waiting for me. And there I sit, bathed in that overwhelming spotlight, perched like a princess at this elegant instrument. So proud am I that I have memorized my music so thoroughly. I had had it down for weeks. We labored, Ann and I, over musical nuances, poise, phrasing and the like. She bolstered my confidence. I was so ready! But then there’s that thief part.

As I sat there I could not hear the music that had danced in my head for months. I could not remember how it started, how it phrased, where it crescendoed. I began to wilt. The paper shuffling became a roar, the cautioned coughs became urgent noises of an impatient crowd. I had nowhere to hide, nowhere to go. So I sat there. And I lost it all. To this day, I cannot play the piano. I can pluck out a few notes in the treble clef but that’s all that the thief let me keep.

This is not a memory lane moment shared to make you go, “Awww… Poor kid!” And now, “Poor adult who can’t get over such a traumatic thing!” Nope. It is to reinforce my sweet knowledge that life is like music. We strive to learn, to understand, to master one small measure at a time.

And so it is that my Life Motto has been sculpted to be this: Out of Small and Simple Things are Great Things Brought To Pass. We are small, you and I. We have small moments all day, every day. We come from small places and do small acts of grace and generous acts of love. It is good to be small. The world clamors for me to be big, to take huge swipes at life, to be bold and brave and outrageous. But I’m a simple creature. And I love knowing that the measure of my day today will add to the measure of life I lived yesterday and that of the week before. And all this will be added to the measures that I write in my life for the tomorrows to come. My only hope is that the end result in my life’s music will be a melody worth hearing.


A Slow Drift


Photo Cred: RG

A Slow Drift

2 December 2015

I’m certain I am not the only one.

A song has randomly filled the car on my way to do my errands this morning and immediately I want to pull over, crank it up, close my eyes and drift. Savor the memories that have just burst like fireworks in my heart. This one is from when I was a kid. My parents somehow infused music into my soul without me even knowing it. My favorite romance album is theirs. I have a soft spot for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, thanks to my Dad. This one comes from Floyd Cramer. Our Last Date. I am not sure where it fits into my chronology, but it is in there, snuggly tight.

This is not a new phenomenon for me. Or for you either, for that matter. Thousands of songs take us thousands of places in the skip of a heartbeat. Why is that? How is that? Deeper still – do I do that for someone else?  Is there a song out there that trips someone else’s Reminiscent Meter of me that I may never know of?

Moments of Music – These are moments of reverence, moments of mischief, moments that I wish weren’t there at all. Ones that make me roll my eyes, or the ones that make tears soften my face. I love them all.

Good Music