I am grateful for many things in my life. Each morning, I run a list of these things through my head as a kind of meditation-prayer. I focus all my energy on the positive things in my life, what I love, the things for which I am grateful. Obviously, the list always starts with the people I love: my wife, my kids, my parents, my sister, extended family, dear friends, and then finally a few of the people I have never met but who have made a huge impact on my life.
Suzanne Vega is one of those people.
Funny thing? I already wrote a blog about seeing her in concert and various thoughts on Suzanne Vega on the main blog page in my Blogger collection: Sense of Doubt:
"Old Blogs that never got posted pt. 1."
If you're interested, you can read that blog entry, which, mentions narcissism several times, yesterday's topic.
Though I am tempted to re-post the entire former blog entry here, I am resisting as I feel it's time for at least one shorter post. The link above will you take you the original entry (and I cannot resist quoting from it here); it's a LONG blog entry, but I am rather proud of it. It examines many of the issues I am going to touch on here and more. SIDENOTE: Did you know that Suzanne Vega published a book of poetry? Neither did I until I saw someone bring the book to the concert at the Ark in 2007, hoping to get it signed. So, I tracked it down later and bought it. Good stuff.
A couple of quotes from that blog entry: "If I made a list of musical artists with whom I would like to have dinner and a good conversation, Suzanne Vega would be at the top of my list. She radiates such keen intelligence that I think the conversations would be fabulous, and she also possesses such a warm and open manner that I think I could overcome the intimidation I might feel around other “celebrities.” I am sure that I am not the only one who would like to have an extended talk with Suzanne Vega, asking questions about the origins of her songs, the choices she makes, the scope of her career, and her plans for the future" (Me, 2008).
"There’s a confluence of ideas here. Suzanne Vega, connections between people, obtaining things we love from others, learning to evaluate without using personal taste as the only criterion, how memory permeates every experience with an artist’s work. And so, returning to my original comment about having dinner with Suzanne Vega, all of these ideas would make for a great conversation, I think. I would like to hear her reaction to these ideas and her experiences with creating and performing her music. Has she had similar kinds of experiences? Have others shared with her similar stories of how they have encountered and listened to her music? What varied experiences have people shared with her?" (Me again, 2008).
I find it a bit odd how we consume media and become so involved with it, so passionate about it. Just looking at how we consume and enjoy our music, many of us (and this is an important distinction because not everyone does this kind of thing with music) go all in. We invest deeply in the music we love. We listen repeatedly to favorite albums, favorite songs. With favorite artists, we collect all the music available, which conveys a special status. We become experts on the music of our favorite artists. We contemplate the meaning of lyrics, and ultimately, we may fantasize about meeting the artists we love.
Suzanne Vega would definitely make a top ten list of people I would like to share dinner and discussion (as I had already written about five years ago and quoted above). Or, if I could really live my fantasy, I might expand the guest list to 13 musical artists that I would love to invite to a dinner party. I would love to talk with Suzanne, if she was willing to share, about what prompted her to write "Marlene on the Wall," "The Queen and the Soldier," or other favorite songs not necessarily from that first album. I would like to tell Suzanne how much her music has meant to me, how it has affected my life, and how many of my memories, times in my life, have her music as a soundtrack or as a touchstone. Many of us use our music as a way to fully invest in the emotions we're feeling: celebrations when happy or anger and pain when heart-broken. I wonder what Suzanne would say about her music and its role in her life, and in our all our lives, in this fantasy discussion. It's unlikely that I will ever find out.
So, I am very grateful for Suzanne Vega and all that she has given me in my life, all that I have shared with her through music, what seems like deeply personal music, without knowing her at all, though feeling like I do know her, know her music.
So, each morning, I run the list of things for which I am grateful. I am not always listing musical artists, like Suzanne Vega, because I focus mostly on my family and community. Though from time to time, musical artists will drift into my consciousness, and I will thank the universe for them, infuse the positive energy of my love into the fabric of the cosmos, because, after all, we are all connected.
LAST WORD ON THE GRATITUDE THING: I got the idea for the gratitude prayer (meditation, list, incantation, catalogue, rumination, reflection, or whatever you want to call it) from a movie called The Secret. I am not quite promoting the movie as a "true" exposure of an actual science. In fact, many of the stories in the film are a bit fatuous. However, I like watching it. I showed it to a class (my second viewing) about a month ago, and the idea of the daily gratitude thing struck me. In the movie, one of the interviewees (I forget which one and it's not important) explained how he had a rock in his pocket. At night, he would set it on his dresser with the other contents of his pockets. The next morning, he would retrieve it and remember to list the things for which he was grateful as a daily routine, like a prayer. He had a visitor from South Africa and told the man about his rock and gratitude practice. The man called it a "gratitude rock." After returning to South Africa, he wrote his American friend and asked for some gratitude rocks to be sent to him because one of his children was very sick, and he did not have the money to seek medical care for the child. The interviewee balked at sending "gratitude rocks" because, after all, "they are just rocks," he said. But he found three nice rocks and sent them to his South African friend. Months later, the South African wrote back. The rocks worked! His son was healed and recovered. They paid for his medical treatment by selling a hundred gratitude rocks. People believed in the power of the gratitude rocks.
I found this story inspirational. I do not use a rock, but every day, I make my gratitude list. I send energy into the universe. I focus on the positive and try to limit or dismiss the negative.
I think it's working.
VIDEOS - UPDATE 1312.09
In working on my post for Monday Dec. 9th, T-shirt #263, I discovered that I had this post in the "posts with music videos" category, even though it featured no music videos.
So I am updating. First my favorite Suzanne Vega song.
updated again 1601.08