Recently I watched a Ted Talk given by Anne Lamott, a writer from British Columbia, Canada. Her presentation focused on the 12 truths she learned from life and writing. Compiling a list of things she “knew for sure” just prior to her 61st birthday, Anne describes self-care as a top priority in life, much to the dismay of naysayers who believe this behavior is selfish and narcissistic. For many women, self-care can be a difficult feat. For Anne, writing, singing and community work are the truths we express, our truths. Pieces of ourselves. The truths we bring to the world. I must say, I wholeheartedly agree.
Octavia is a group of women who love to sing. A group I am happy to say, I am a part of. We express though song, vibrations resonating in our souls. We bring heartfelt feeling to the works of Leonard Cohen in Anthem, Emily Lund in Dona Nobis Pacem and Gordon Lightfoot in Song for a Winter’s Night. We simply join together for a common purpose. Some are musicians and play the violin, piano, guitar or drums. A few are able to read music and others sing by ear. We are sopranos, altos and tenors. Our voices struggle to hit the high notes and the low notes. We reach consensus somewhere in between thanks to our conductor who swings her hips in the most graceful way as she leads us with gentle persuasion through each song. Four have battled or are currently seeking treatment for cancer. Others have suffered great losses and grieved. Some live with Alzheimer’s, disabilities or limitations. Everyone laughs. Everyone cries. We all sing with great joy because to sing is to release from the heart and soul sounds reminiscent of our home with the angels. The familiar language of peace and harmony we so long for in our relationships with others. Singing is common among all people’s. A beautiful language understood by everyone of all ages. Singing evokes emotions we tuck away in our heart space, a heart that breaks open with the gift of music. We are not striving for perfection. Rather, we seek harmonization. To achieve harmony is no small feat. Just ask anyone involved in conflict or strife. But, it is possible through song. Perhaps, we all just need to sing instead of using our words to resolve conflict. For in song, conflict ceases to exist.
This video is Octavia performing at our end of the year community concert. The song is Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”. The following quote by Leonard on suffering and grief is taken from a 1992 interview published in One on One: The Imprint by Barbara Gowdy.
“The light [in the lines ‘There is a crack in everything’, /That’s how the light gets in’ from Anthem] is the capacity to reconcile your experience, your sorrow with everyday that dawns. It is that understanding, which is beyond significance or meaning, that allows you to live life and embrace the disasters and sorrows and joys that are our common lot. But it’s only with the recognition that there is a crack in everything. I think all other visions are doomed to irretrievable gloom. And whenever anyone else asks us to accept a perfect solution, that should immediately alert us to the flaws in that presentation.” – Leonard Cohen.
When Octavia was asked the question, “What song would you like to sing for this blog,’ the answer was unanimous. Anthem! This is our truth expressed through song. The truth that we are all women with cracks. But then again, that is how our light gets in. This is Octavia.
Special thanks to Vanessa for videotaping Octavia.