I came across a friend’s CD the other night as I was searching for a box of notecards. I didn’t find the stationery, but I pulled the CD from the shelf and reviewed its printed contents for a few moments. I never fully listened to it when I bought it years ago, but it stands for everything that inspires me in life.
It also manages to define a few of my quirks.
Summer before last, I bought a book. I saw it reviewed a few times in various magazines, but the thing that most caught my attention was the cover artwork. Vibrant colors and a giant hunk of cake stared back at me. Sold.
Cake aside, the story seemed interesting enough, so I bought it. As I began to read, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make it past the first few pages. The writing was choppy. It was the written equivalent of a staccato in music. I tripped over the author’s combination of words, the sentences lacked an easy flow, I was having to re-read things repeatedly, and it made me irritated.
The irritation also stemmed from the fact that it was a bestseller. If something like that could get published, why couldn’t I be bothered to write my own material if I was so sure the work of others was inferior? It’s a question that’s been in my head for years, and I think last year was the first year I really started devoting time to writing. I’m not saying mine is best-selling material, but for me, doing it every day is a starting point. And you always need to start somewhere.
But I digress.
So the CD is sitting next to me here at the computer. Its packaging is attractive, simple, well-designed and it has everything I’ve always loved about buying something tangible from a music store: the smell of dense, rich ink on the sleeve, tidy columns of lyrics for those times when belting out the [correct] words is absolutely necessary, sepia tone photos of the artist’s earlier years and gracious thanks sprinkled with inside jokes from each of the musicians. Thanks to the band, to the spouses, to God. Thanks for their support, encouragement, their ideas, their warmth, their contributions and for the beer. Thanks for the guiding hands, the late-night food excursions, for friendship and hope and belief.
The CD is in a similar bucket as the book. I’ve never made it all the way through, mostly because it would be a reminder that a regular ol’ person like myself took a chance and made it happen.
And that I didn’t.
It’s important to note that never having listened to the CD is by no means a matter of jealousy. It was purchased as a show of support, but its presence felt like something my heart considered a weight to be dealt with. And it wasn’t ready to deal with it for years.
Coming across the CD has been a reminder that while I’ve not only lost touch with the musician friend, I’ve lost touch with my own desire to finish my eternally-incomplete batch of music. This weekend, being slightly under the weather and with time on my hands, feels like the perfect time to dust off the album that’s been close by but just out of sight. It feels as though the CD was a gentle presence watching over me, peeking out from behind the books it was tucked behind, just waiting for the right time to appear when I’d be most receptive to it.
This weekend is that time.
Tonight I am thankful for coming across something that had essentially been forgotten, but which has been a quiet companion all these years just the same. I am grateful for the inspiration I know its songs will hold for me, and I thank my heart for finally being ready to give it a listen.