What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. —Aristotle
I started writing this as an observation prompt. I was thinking about how we walk certain paths every day of our lives, from home to work, to school, to the shops, but it’s unusual for us to stop and pay close attention to the little details of the routes we take.
Suddenly, I started thinking about paths of life. With all its twists and turns, I can never see what’s around the corner. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak and I’ve tried to order my life in a way that is going to make it better or at the very least, not make it any worse.
I’ve thought about some of the decisions I’ve made and how unhappy they’ve made me, but at the same time, it’s hard to regret. Someone once said that regret is to “hang yourself with your own noose. Mental suicide”. I think I agree with this, but at the same time, it’s good to learn from mistakes and try to move forward. Ok – off on a tangent.
Back to the road.
When I think of what lays before me in the new year, I’m filled with both hope and apprehension. Much is uncertain and there is little that I can rely on. So, it’s hard to think about new years resolutions or to make plans. Rather than freak out or panic about this rather shaky state of affairs, I looking at this time as an opportunity to really decide what chapter is going to be next and to work out who’s coming with me.
Not your usual writing prompt, but have a go at this. If you had a clean slate, nothing to lose and no one to answer to, how would you write this new year for yourself? Don’t limit it to merely joining a gym, swearing off alcohol, learning a new skill or any of the usual lists that people create for themselves. Be creative and really ask yourself what it is you want.
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
– William Butler Yeats
“A true friend stabs you in the front.” – Oscar Wilde
At first glance, these words don’t seem to go together. When you think of glass, you think of something fragile, breakable. When you think of elephants, you think of (or at least I do) strong, powerful, sturdy beasts with few natural predators. So, what made me think of the two together? Simple really, I found a glass perfume bottle in the shape of an elephant.
Think about other combinations that you wouldn’t normally think of working together, but somehow, they do. I’ll get you started “teddy bear”.
Next, try to think of completely random words and find a way to pair them. It can be anything, use your imagination and if all else fails, pick random spots in the dictionary and pull words until you have a nice pool of 20 or 30. Play with language and see what you get.
” Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down. “
There are some books that have great opening and finishing lines. They’re the ones that grab you to begin with and make you think and leave you inspired at the end.
One of my favourites is “I Capture the Castle”. It’s a lovely story, but I like the way it starts and ends. (and everything in between)
First Line: “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
Last Line: “There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.”
Try this, write an opening line and a closing line. Now connect the dots, what happens in between?
Love letters and poems aren’t the least bit difficult to write, if you write directly from your heart into the ink and don’t channel through your brain first. ~Graycie Harmon
Sometimes I listen to random music and it takes me back to specific moments in my life. I can still remember my first single. “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol. I was playing tether ball in the play ground at school when someone mentioned him and I went off to find out who he was and what the fuss was about. I was always a little late to pick up new music and to keep up with the other kids.
The first tape my mother bought me was Madonna’s first album. I must have played “Borderline” a hundred times. The Cutting Crew came soon after. What was I thinking?
As the year have gone by there have been specific songs that have made an impact. My first gig in Los Angeles was Crowded House at the Wiltern Theater. I had a mad crush on Neil Finn.
My first real boyfriend gave me my first Cure album and introduced me to “A Night Like This”.
R.E.M. was frequently on my play list and drove my friends crazy. Not rock and roll enough.
Some songs just stick with me because they remind me of people, events or feelings.
“Don’t You Forget About Me” – Simple Minds reminds me of my brother.
“A Question of Time” – Depeche Mode is Paul, my friend’s older brother who was seven years older than me and sent me my first flower arrangement after we met at a party. We were both gutted when we discovered we were the wrong age for each other. Sure, seven years is no big deal when you’re adult, but when you’re 14, it’s not only devastating, it’s illegal. (no nothing happened). Of course, in one of life’s little ironies, we met again when I was 21 years old and he was married with a 2 year old…alas…
“Swollen” – Bent is my favourite song and seems to follow me around. If you want to get to me, tell me you like that song. We’ll be talking music all day.
“Black” – Pearl Jam is Jeff, a friend who died rock climbing with friends on the 4th of July 1994. He was just 24 years old and had just finished his training to become a paramedic. During he training, which often saw him up before dawn, he would often come over and sit in my kitchen where I made him coffee to get him ready for the day. On one occasion, he even visited me with his team and an ambulance to show me the life-saving gadgets within. I still have a made up medical report he did for me at the time. He once told me that the lyric “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life…” in that song made him sad.
“Noah’s Dove” – 10,000 Maniacs reminds me of sitting in the car park at university waiting for class to start. A history lecturer came out to me from one of the classrooms to tell me that I had the music too loud in my car. Oops.
“Honey Honey” reminds me both of my mother because she was a big ABBA fan and because we used to dance around the livingroom to it and it reminds me of a drive home after helping a friend paint his flat. My arms were sore from the paint roller, I was covered with grey paint, making my dungarees unwearable for anything else and I felt like I was going to fall asleep at the wheel. As I put on some music to chum me home, that song came on. I can’t listen to it without thinking of how much fun we had getting the job done. I hear that song and think of him.
“Come As You Are” by Nirvana reminds me of the last glimpses I got of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city as I left San Francisco to move to London in 1997. It was on the local radio station as I crossed the Bay Bridge.
“Sea Change” and “Long Distance” remind me the most fun I’ve had at a gig in a while.
I could go on and on, but the point is that music unlocks memories. Lyrics can say something in your head that you can’t express yourself.
Think about how music has influenced memories. We all have our own personal soundtrack. Think about yours and write about what music has meant to you.
Most editors are failed writers – but so are most writers. ~T.S. Eliot