In 1984 I had been in recovery for a couple of years; I was doing well in college, and enjoying working in my garden. I lived in a lovely two-story red-shingled Craftsman house in Sebastopol, California. Two palm trees graced the front yard; a barn owl lived in one of them. I often found regurgitated rodent skeletons on the lawn under its perch. Two large picture windows flanked the southeast corner of the living room, bathing my baby grand piano in filtered light. When I practiced Chopin’s Military Polonaise I could hear a bird outside trilling the first three notes of the polonaise, our own duet.
Early in the first week of June I’d gone to the OB-GYN for a routine exam, my annual Pap smear. As usual, at the end of the appointment the nurse said, “If you don’t hear from us by next week know that no news is good news.” (The doctor I now see always reports all test results, positive or negative.) I returned home on Friday evening to an ominous message on my answering machine: “The doctor wants to speak to you about your Pap smear results.” I spent a long weekend half convinced that I had six months to live, which I believe is the standard life expectancy to give oneself when having an overly-dramatic reaction. My self-prognosis led me to a thorough review of my life. I concluded I was generally pleased with how things had turned out. But one thought came in a strong way: I wanted to write an opera. This was news to me – I’d written songs for guitar and flute when I was a teenager, but hadn’t written any music since. And I’d never been a fan of opera, apart from “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” by Giancarlo Menotti, which, compared to most operas, is mercifully short and to the point. I was generally of the opinion that most operas contained a few islands of great tunes stranded between vast oceans of long-winded, boring music performed by singers who sounded as if their shoes were laced too tight. So I was surprised when the voice which I recognized as my inner guide suggested that I write an opera.
On Monday when I finally spoke with the doctor it turned out I only had a few abnormal cells that needed to be rechecked in six months. But by that time I knew I wanted to write an opera. I wasn’t sure how to accomplish my new goal, so I contacted Will Johnson, a composer on the faculty at Sonoma State, where I was studying. Could he recommend a book about writing opera? He scratched his head (literally). He couldn’t think of such a book (this was before the advent of the “Idiot’s Guide” series), but he recommended I enroll in a class being offered jointly by the Music and Theater Arts departments, a production of “Twelfth Night“ with incidental music written by music students.
I enrolled in the class and was assigned to write a couple of songs. What a thrill I felt the first time I heard the soprano sing my Malvolio song! The music I had written was haunting and evocative; it expressively portrayed and even enhanced the character’s mood and the scene. Besides feeling pleased with the effectiveness of my work, I felt a connection to a place of profound okay-ness deep inside of me, accompanied by a great high. I was hooked.
After that I wrote a choral piece, some instrumental music, and tried my hand at writing pop songs with sequenced synthesizer tracks. But, even though my main instrument was piano, I didn’t write any solo piano music. I felt intimidated by the grandeur of the masterpieces by Chopin and Beethoven and Debussy I had studied and performed. I thought it would be presumptuous of me to even attempt writing for the piano.
And then my dog, Shana, died. She was a Coonhound I’d inherited from a drinking relationship that went bad. I really lucked out on that one. Coonhounds are an All-American breed of dog. They are extremely loyal and clever, and engender devotion in their human companions - just ask anyone who has their pup buried at the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard in Alabama. Good old Shana stuck with me through good times and bad. By the end of her life, she was crippled with arthritis, blind, and deaf, but when I put my hand to her nose so she could catch my scent, she wagged her tail. The day after Shana died, I experienced an image of her romping like a youngster in what appeared to be Dog Heaven, chasing butterflies in a sunlit meadow. This scene was accompanied in my head by a piano melody. I sat down at the piano to transcribe the melody - I thought I would write perhaps one page of music to help process my grief; I ended up writing a three movement piano sonata. The piece is called “Shana’s Song.” The movements are “Meadow,” “Mountain,” and “Out,” after a poem by Nathaniel Burt.
Let’s go play in the sun, you and I
hand in hand on the beaches.
At night, over our whispers, hear the sea.
Let’s look into the light, smiling, squinting our eyes.
And you can shake out your hair,
O, into the salt and gleaming wind.
And we shall not go back, not look inside,
close up the starless closet, throw the key.
Let’s drop all thoughts, all deaths, all duties.
Let’s, clean as a shell, like the wind blown free,
be tossed spendthrift, become pure and bare,
Become so shining that we cease to be.
Because of the very personal nature of my feelings about Shana, I could only write her elegy on the instrument most intimate to me, the piano. In the way of dogs, she taught me about unconditional love when she was alive, and in her death she helped open my heart to my own piano music. Since that time, the majority of my music has been for piano.
On the recommendation of my undergraduate teachers, I moved to the East Coast to study composition in graduate school. It turned out the East Coast scene wasn’t for me! I felt overwhelmed by the abrupt, rude nature of the people I encountered in Boston, and most of the courses I took concentrated on intellectual analysis of atonal music (music without a tonal center or “home,” and often with disturbing arrhythmic qualities), which I found tedious. One time, after I played the beginning of a new string trio I was writing, my composition teacher commented in an almost accusatory tone, “You really are a melodist aren’t you?” - as if melodies were a crime against education and sophistication.
I did enjoy two of my classes – an orchestration course where we studied all the instruments of the orchestra with live demonstrations by the talented instrumental students at the conservatory. We learned the ranges, techniques, strengths, limitations, and idiosyncrasies of the various instruments, This was very helpful for a person who composes for instruments they don’t actually play.
Equally useful was a theory class taught by Pozzi Escot, which made a significant contribution to my theories about energy and flow. Pozzi Escot loved the Golden Section, a ratio formula (1:618) found throughout nature. For example, the ratio defines the curve of a Nautilus shell, and if you multiply the length of your body by .618 you will locate your belly button. Dr. Escot took famous musical masterpieces, multiplied their length by point 618, and showed us how the climax of these great pieces often came at the Golden Section. She also showed thought-provoking examples of the Golden Section from architecture, painting, and photography.
When my time at the New England Conservatory ended, I gratefully loaded my belongings in my car and headed west. As I drove, I enjoyed the passing scenery, concluding that Nature is truly the greatest artist. Nowhere did I see a vista of rolling hills or a tree silhouetted in moonlight that didn’t strike me with the beauty and uplifting quality of its form. I realized that what sets master artists (of the human variety) apart is their natural sense for pleasing and stimulating balance and proportion. I doubt that any of the great creators pull out a yardstick or count the beats and measures to determine where the cornice, Grand Pause, or dab of blue should go. They simply have a gift for sensing the flow and movement of life energy. We love to be in nature and we love great art. Nature and art help us understand that all of life fluctuates in a tidal flow of divine balance; all beings exist in shifting relationship to one another. We are reminded that we are participants in the dance of life, and that it is possible to take our steps gracefully, taking time to listen to the pulse of the tune. The Golden Section is only one of many factors shaping the beauty, balance, and flow of this universe. My knowledge of the Golden Section opened the door of a greater awareness of how all life is interrelated.
After college I landed in Washington State, on a spot of land in the Puget Sound called Sandy Hook. I lived in a funky house with an equally funky piano - originally a fine upright grand made by Fisher in the 1920s, with beautiful carved scrollwork on the music stand and legs. The previous owner painted it yellow to match his basement. But the piano still sounded good. I had a lovely view of Bainbridge Island across Agate Passage, of sunrises and moonrises reflected on the water, and occasional views of bald eagles and osprey in the sky. I began to take piano students, and as I taught them the basics, I reeled myself in from the lofty realms of the atonal music I had studied at the conservatory. Back in undergraduate school, while writing Shana’s Song, I had played a portion of it for my composition teacher. His mildly disparaging comment was that it sounded “awfully Windham Hill-ish.” (Windham Hill is a record label founded by guitarist and composer Will Ackerman. Most of the early Windham Hill artists played music in the instrumental New Age genre.) At that time I was only slightly familiar with Windham Hill recordings, and the one piece of music I recalled had struck me as repetitive and dull ( since then I’ve listened to more Windham Hill music and found it very enjoyable). Because I didn’t know much, and I’d put my faith and trust in my teachers (who were all wonderful people, certainly well-meaning, but not necessarily correct about everything), I tried to make that passage in Shana’s Song edgier. Now I was out of school and teaching my students about scales and chords in all the different keys; I wrote a book of teaching pieces to tie everything together - to me, studying music theory without a direct application makes very little sense. I was delighted to write pieces with pleasant melodies and relatively simple harmonic structures. So when a friend of mine dared me to write more commercially-oriented music, I had to take him up on it. I met Norm in 1992. We’d been dating for several months when he told me that if I wrote a demo piece he enjoyed listening to, he’d give me a grant to take a month off and write more music along the same lines. For a few weeks I studied the type of music Norm liked and which I could personally relate to, got a feel for the flavor I wanted, and then sat down to write. I invited Norm to my house for a special concert. I played Still Waters, my first piece in this new genre, and segments of some other pieces I’d begun putting together. He loved it, although he’d forgotten about his offer of a grant. He was delighted with the music I’d written and encouraged me to write along the same lines. I began working with Scott Cossu (who, by the way, had been a Windham Hill artist). Scott made suggestions for different types of pieces I could try, and hooked me up with great instrumentalists. We made demo recordings of my pieces and one day, as Norm and I listened to what we had so far, we looked at each other and said, “Wow - we’ve got an album!” That was in October of 1993. We scrambled like crazy and managed to have an album release party before Christmas that same year. I named the album Grateful Heart to honor the grace that brought me to the possibility of rebuilding my life with recovery from alcoholism, and my second chance at doing something with my music (I had been accepted at Cal Arts when I was 16; my father wouldn’t pay the tuition) .
Norm and I hired a small radio-play tracking outfit to help us pitch the CD to radio stations. My album received airplay on about 200 stations, mostly on eclectic programming in small to mid-size markets. Even though Norm set out to manage my career, it turned out he would get fired from his day job if he was working on another business, especially on job time. So it was up to me make follow-up calls to the radio stations, and that just about did me in. I was good at initiating contact, but follow-up made me ill. (Since then I have taken a personality test which revealed that I am an INFJ - Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judgment - personality type. According to Please Understand Me, a book that includes a personality test and descriptions of the various personality types, INFJs have many wonderful qualities - we’re creative, intuitive, and do our best to make the world a better place - but we should NEVER hold any kind of sales position - we’re that bad at sales.) Nevertheless, in hopes of building on the momentum of the first album, I began writing and recording the music for a second CD which eventually became Incurable Romantic.
Norm and I often butted heads and occasionally had some real doozer fights. I realized both Norm and my mother had the uncanny ability to pick a fight before a significant date or event - my birthday, a concert, a recording date, Christmas. I noticed other similarities between the two relationships, including the fact that both of these people had a strong idea of what I should be doing with my musical talent – and their plans for me usually didn’t mesh with my true heart’s expression of the musical energy I feel inside. Norm’s projection was that I should become a sexy commercial success - after all, what good is talent if you’re not making money with it? My mother went to her grave disappointed I didn’t get a Ph.D. in Musicology or Music Theory and teach at a university. A major part of my relationship with Norm was learning to say, “No, that isn’t me. I don’t like how this is going and if we can’t change the harmful dynamics of this relationship I’m not going to stick around.” I left my relationship with him and ended up releasing Incurable Romantic on my own. While working on Incurable Romantic, I was beginning to get a sense of symphonic music rising within me. I decided if Incurable Romantic didn’t move me ahead in commercial sales and airplay, I would write the music for orchestra I was felt inside of me, asking to be written. Some people hear music in their heads and then write it on paper. I have a sense around my belly of a musical energy that wants to come out - I sit at the piano with manuscript paper and a pencil, put my hands on the keys, and start to play. I then write the music as it comes out.
Incurable Romantic didn’t make a huge splash in the music world, so I began an orchestral work that became a semi-autobiographical rendition of my spiritual path, sort of a musical Everyman. I called it The Seeker. This is music about and for people who are open to spiritual solutions as we face the challenges offered by life as a human being on planet Earth.
Wake-up Call, the first movement of The Seeker, is about the crucial moment when one feels a moment of clarity and recognition during a downward spiral, and the ensuing relief and uplifting rush of energy when we turn to a spiritual way of life. (For me, it was my surrender of trying to control my alcoholism.) The second movement, River of Love, is about Ammachi, an Indian saint who gave a program I attended in Seattle. Before she entered the hall, the crowd waited expectantly at the sides of the aisle she would walk down, intoning a Hindu chant. A minute or two before she entered I felt an incoming tidal flow of love. She strode down the walkway, beaming a sweet and infinitely caring smile. When she seated herself at the front of the room, I joined those who wished to receive her blessing in a line that now filled the aisle, and I felt as though I was being carried on a river of love. I’m not the only one who has experienced that sensation with Ammachi: a few years after I composed River of Love I saw a documentary about her life and work, also titled River of Love. I wrote the third movement of the symphony, Angels & Eskimos, partly inspired by the Eskimo story, acknowledging and honoring all the beings, known and unknown, seen and unseen, who guide us through blizzards. The fourth movement, Shining Through, is about the light that begins to shine more strongly from within when we mindfully practice spiritual values such as compassion, kindness, love and openness, to ourselves and to others.
Once I’d completed the score, I realized it wasn’t enough to have written it - I wanted to hear it performed. I began searching for opportunities, submitting the score to symphony orchestras and recording labels. One conductor told me it had too much commercial possibility - that grant money for performances of new works only went to music that wouldn’t fill halls. It seemed that The Seeker fell into a gap between New Age and classical music. My mother periodically offered to either a) pay for me to go back to school and finish my graduate degrees or b) buy a duplex which my brother and I could share. I wasn’t interested in either option, but I did want to have my orchestral music recorded. If Mom really wanted to buy something for me, having my music recorded was my first choice. I approached her with that idea, suggesting that her accountant might find a way to make the expense a nice tax write-off for her. Somewhat reluctantly she agreed to speak with her accountant (she continued to hold the opinion that I should “smarten up” my music). (I also strongly suspect she only offered to pay for things which she knew I didn’t want and wouldn’t take her up on. That way she could appear to be a generous person without actually having to suffer the pain of parting with any of her money.) The news came back that her accountant approved the plan, but that I had to write a business plan for the project; my mother agreed to go along with the project under those circumstances. I’m pretty sure everybody thought that was the end of that episode, that I probably wouldn’t get around to writing a formal business plan. I’m pretty good at lists, but a business plan would be a stretch for me. And it did take me awhile. I moved to Hawaii, which diverted my time and energy, but once I settled there I got help from the Small Business Administration.
I telephoned my mother to let her know I’d completed the business plan. “What business plan?” she asked. She’d forgotten all about it. I reminded her of our agreement, and she then came up with several objections - it probably wouldn’t make any money (which was assumed from the beginning - orchestral recording is quite expensive and independent operators like myself rarely make large amounts from sales) - it wasn’t fair to my brothers and my sister that I should get extra money (I promised to pay back our mother’s estate in the event that she died before sales from the recording paid the costs) - what if one of the people involved in the project sued her - (okay, so we’ll form an LLC) - et cetera. But the fact was, she had agreed, and I wasn’t going to let her off the hook - - this was way too important to me. And it also turned out to be important to my relationship with her.
A friend of mine gave me the number of a film composer he knew in Los Angeles. I called the composer and asked, “How would I go about putting together an orchestral recording session?” He put me in touch with a contractor who worked with musicians from Local 47 and the contractor organized the entire recording date. To pay the musicians, I had to set up an account with a payroll company. When I would speak with the payroll company on the phone the person on the other end of the line asked a couple of times, “Who are you, anyway?” I finally got them to tell me that I was working with one of the top contractors in L.A., who was putting together an orchestra of the top musicians in L.A. for my recording, and the people at the payroll company couldn’t figure out how this person nobody had ever heard of before (me) just waltzed in and got the best L.A. had to offer. It was a huge stroke of luck.
We scheduled three evenings of recording. I arrived at Capitol Studios in the afternoon and was directed to Studio A. The walls flanking the long ramp which leads down to the famous studio are lined with photographs of many of the artists who have recorded there: Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, among many others. I was in the presence of greatness. Charlie Paakkari, the lead engineer at Capitol, met me at the recording booth. He was warm and friendly, and, as I learned during the next few days, kind and patient. The studio was set up with chairs and music stands for the musicians; I went around the room putting the parts for the individual musicians which I’d prepared from the music scores on their stands. Soon the conductor, Peter Boyer, arrived. Working with Peter was a complete joy. He quickly tuned into the essence of the music and directed the players with enthusiasm and expertise. Hearing my orchestral music performed live by expert musicians was one of the highlights of my life. It was also an intense experience - it was the first time I’d had an orchestral piece performed, much less recorded. I wasn’t completely sure what to expect from everybody I was working with. Above all, I was fervently hoping there wouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises with my arrangements or incredibly stupid mistakes in the notation. There had to be a few corrections, and now when I listen to the recording there are a few places I’d like to change the balance in the mix. But overall it went very smoothly. I would even venture to say that some of those seasoned Hollywood studio veterans might have been just a teensy weensy bit impressed by the music written by this nobody who dropped in from Maui.
After the first evening of recording and mixing I telephoned my mother to report to her how thrilled I was with the session. Before the recording date I had invited her to come to the session, but she had told me she was too busy. I was a little surprised - she always had a great interest in museums, live theater, chamber music, and other similar cultural events. But that evening she must have heard the excitement in my voice on the phone, because she did fly down from the Bay Area for the third evening of the session. When she got to the recording studio she acted very interested and genteel. While the musicians were assembling she went around the studio shaking hands, introducing herself as the composer’s mother. We had a fun time, eating our supper at a restaurant in Hollywood with autographed eight by tens of celebrities, listening in on a rap session in an adjacent studio at Capitol, napping on the black leather couches while the engineer and the producer mixed the session into the wee hours. After my mother returned home I heard from all of my siblings that she had told them all about it and had referred to the session as a “peak experience,” high praise indeed from a woman who had studied behavioral psychology (in the theory of the “hierarchy of needs” developed by the eminent behavioral psychologist Abraham Maslow, one of my mother’s heroes, “peak experiences” are crucial for satisfactory human development).
We recorded in April, 2000. I went back to Maui and worked on mastering the recording and creating artwork and graphics for the demo. In June I sent an accounting to my mother, my financial partner in the project. In August she came to visit me in Maui. The first stop after picking her up from the airport was Baldwin Beach for a swim in tropical waters. At the parking lot at the beach she rummaged through her small suitcase for several minutes. When I asked her what she was doing she couldn’t remember, so I reminded her she was looking for her bathing suit so that we could go for a swim. When we got to my house she used my e-mail address to send an e-mail to her boyfriend in California. He replied that her message hadn’t made any sense, and when I looked at her message in the body of his reply I saw what he meant - it was a jumble of letters that weren’t words. My mother was a good traveler - earlier that year she had accompanied her boyfriend to Italy for a professional meeting, and they had just returned from a sailing trip in British Columbia. Still, I attributed her behaving vague and confused to her being tired from the flight. I lived in an apartment on the ground floor of a house located 2500 feet on the side of Haleakala, providing gorgeous, sweeping views over the valley to the West Maui Mountains and sunsets over the water. I had arranged for my mother to come at a time when I was housesitting for my landlady so that my mother could stay in the main part of the house. There was cable TV, so I asked her to watch “Whose Line Is It Anyway” with me. It’s a funny and often brilliant show which is completely improvised. I don’t know, maybe I was setting myself up, because this is a woman who didn’t even own a TV, which is a statement in itself, but I thought it would be fun! She would not allow that the show was improvised; she insisted I was being duped, and that it wasn’t even all that funny. It kind of spoiled the fun. The second night my mother was there awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of loud, stomping footsteps in the house above me. Looking out the window I could see that every light in the upstairs part of the house was on. I grabbed my flashlight and went out to see what was going on - there was an ambulance in the driveway. It turned out that my mother had fallen on the stairs and injured her neck; she called 911 and the police and an ambulance had arrived. We took a trip to the emergency room and they put a brace on her neck and gave her prescriptions for Vicodin and Valium. I nursed her the next few days. She wasn’t interested in eating and only wanted to sleep. I asked her to cut back on the medications, hoping that would increase her liveliness, and I called my brother to say that we were going to have to have a family conference because I was afraid she was showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. On the last night she was there she asked to see an updated accounting of the recording project. I told her that nothing had happened with the finances since the last report, but she insisted on seeing a report. So I printed up the most recent accounting and showed it to her. She went off on a tirade, telling me that it wasn’t an acceptable report. I was trying to get her to pack since she was leaving the next morning, but she wanted to fight. I kept saying, “Mom, this isn’t a good time to talk about this, can’t we talk about it after you get home?” She got angry with me and tearfully told me that going into business with me had been a big mistake. I somehow got her packed and got her to go to bed, with her complaining bitterly to me all the while. In the morning she was quite pleasant; I don’t know if she had any recollection of the night before. I had telephoned her boyfriend in the Bay Area to urge him to get her to her doctor as soon as she got home, and after seeing her to her plane I went to the hospital to pick up copies of the emergency room x-rays, which I Fed-exed to her physician in California. Thirteen days later she died in the intensive care ward at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. The technician there who studied her lung x-ray from the hospital in Maui said he could see the pneumonia which had caused her death on that film. She was mean to everyone while she was in the hospital. When my brother came to visit her, after driving six hours from Northern California, she told him to go away. She complained to and fussed at the hospital staff and they finally sedated her and gave her an amnesiac medication so she wouldn’t remember all of the unpleasantness if she did survive. I don’t know if the pneumonia affected the amount of oxygen that got to her brain, and perhaps that affected her behavior at the end of her life. It seemed that her least pleasant characteristics were accentuated. (By the way, my mother’s accountant had no problem using my financial report for the final accounting of my mother’s and my recording project partnership.) Over the next couple of years I began to take more notice of how people behave when the chips are down. It appears that most people have a fatal flaw, a dysfunctional but habitual mode which they revert to when they are experiencing stress. In my mother’s case it was meanness. I have also seen people faced with terminal illness who become beautiful and radiant, cultivating acceptance and peacefulness.
In August of 2004 I received an e-mail with the subject line: “You’ve been nominated!” I nearly deleted the message without reading it, thinking it was probably SPAM, perhaps an offer of a FREE certificate - for just $9.95 shipping and handling, or some such thing. But I did open it, and it was a message informing me that “The Seeker” had been nominated for Best Instrumental Album in the 2004 Just Plain Folks Awards. Not only that, one track from the album, “Angels & Eskimos,” had been nominated for Best Instrumental Song. Wow! I arrived in Huntington Beach, where the Just Plain Folks festivities were taking place, the day before the Awards Dinner, to play in a showcase at a local venue. Just Plain Folks is an association of independent recording artists, and there were musicians nominated in every category you can think of. On the same bill with me at the showcase were a duo of operatic sopranos who specialize in the music of Pauline Viardot, who is an obscure French Romantic period mezzo soprano and composer, a Native American Flute player, a children’s entertainer, and a man who sang jazz standards and accompanied himself with bass and percussion sounds he created vocally and by playing on his own body (which sounds weird but was actually quite wonderful). At the awards dinner I sat with a man who had made an album which tells the story of his family’s beginnings in the United States, nominated in the Americana category. There was also a man at our table who had a song nominated in Christian Pop, but I didn’t learn much about him - he was sitting on the other side of the table and it was much too noisy for conversation. In-between the award announcements there were live performances by artists in the various genres.
The time came for the announcement of the Instrumental Album winners. In the album categories, there were nine nominees, but only four winners - fourth place, third place, second place and winner. As they called the names of the placers my heart was racing. “And the winner is: Kate Moody, “The Seeker!”” As I walked up to the stage to accept my award I knew this was one of the greatest moments of my life. And I can testify that being the winner is definitely bigger than being nominated - “Angels & Eskimos,” which was nominated in the Best Instrumental Song category, received Third Place, which is FINE, but still a little bit of a letdown, and certainly didn’t give me the feeling of overwhelming exhilaration and gratitude that First Place did. I felt vindicated. In fact, it was a season of vindication: a few months earlier I had written and recorded the sound track for two Prenatal Yoga DVDs produced by Rudra Press. The entire project came out very well; I was energized by the purpose of the DVDs - supporting expectant mothers and their unborn children - and experienced inspiration in the work. I was pleased with the music and how it blended with the yoga instructions and the movement, and the producers loved it too. My father, who was a partner in a large big-city law firm and had plenty of money to send me to music school, refused to send me because of the cost (I had often thought over the years that if my father had supported my attending Cal Arts when I was a teen that I would have had a career in film scoring). My mother belittled any of my work which wasn’t “serious” - in other words, music that would be played on the embalmed music radio station. I did experience redemption with her at the recording of “The Seeker,” but she just about wiped that out with her accusations of incompetence and expressions of disappointment the last time that I saw her. (Knowing that she was quite sick the last time I saw her takes some of the sting out of her comments, but the memory still hurts, especially because it was yet another rendition of the same old theme of sad misunderstanding.) My brother’s wife told me that my stepmother, who acted very friendly to me in person, was very nasty about me behind my back, and spoke often about what a loser I was, that I was not a good musician, and that I would never have a boyfriend.
So I am either very stubborn, or I am very tuned in to what the universe is asking of me - or both! Because with very little support, and in fact quite a bit of discouragement, from the people who played a huge part in shaping my sense of self and ability and aspirations, I persisted in following the inner urge. And now I had a couple of nice kudos.
There is a passage in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” that goes like this: “We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick Though we did not like their symptoms and the way they disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, ‘This is a sick person. How can I be helpful? God, save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’” And I would add to that, “Show me my own true value and worth, and help me to express that in the world in a way which will bring the most benefit to all beings.”
copyright 2009, Kate Moody
"Out" printed by permission of the author.