About a month ago, a friend asked me if I would do a “commissioned” piece for her fortieth birthday. I was thrilled and honored by her request, so we made a plan to talk on the phone so I could get a sense of what this birthday means to her.
Heather Barnes and I have known each other for over a decade through singing with the Common Woman Chorus, and more recently as Facebook friends. Over the years, I have enjoyed singing with her in small groups and hearing the funny, charming stories of her daughter’s escapades as she becomes her own unique person. When Heather and I talked about the end of her fourth decade of life, she spoke of the double-edged sword of being a mother. She relishes her relationship with her daughter AND she acknowledges the need to heal from postpartum depression. For this birthday, she wants to “lay down a marker” of the journey she has been on. She spoke of creating healthy and flexible boundaries, feeling more confident, and appreciating the person she sees in the mirror each day. The future holds the promise of strong connections with people she loves.
I felt a powerful sense of self-love and positive feelings about her own physical body as a part of what Heather is feeling in her life now. So the the piece should invite movement. As I began to work, I needed a bit more direction, so I did a tarot card reading using my favorite Motherpeace Tarot deck. (Thirty years ago I often consulted tarot and I-Ching for perspective and guidance. I just recently returned to this practice.) Heather’s reading indicated a strong negative force that she is working through and leaving behind. The Death card and the Moon card pointed to this movement. The path through this force is the penetrating intensity of the Ace of Swords combined with the stillness and patience of the Son of Cups. A sense of mourning and letting go combined with deep surrender to the unknown – “let the Goddess work in your life” was the deep message.
Our conversation and the reading shaped the piece in terms of structure, voicings and themes. “So Far (for Heather)” begins with a bluesy swaying dirge and a trumpet wailing grief, anger and sadness. There is a feeling of sloshing through a great heaviness for a while. This movement gives way to the metallic piercing of bells creating a clearing in the sonic space. There is rattling, ringing, a sifting through and letting go of the bones of the past. The final section is a percussive and joyful release with an invitation to celebrate and dance!!!
Happiest of birthdays to Heather Barnes and much appreciations for including a soundpainting to mark this time in your life.