Trying something new this time. I'd like you to understand the full experience that is writing these pieces. For, when I say "Currently Listening To," I don't mean "listening to this week" or "has been on my mind a lot at work." I mean currently, as in now. Right now, as I type these words.

Here, let me show you:



Do yourself a favor. Stop what you are doing. Find a quiet place. Close the door. If it is night when you are reading this, take a toke, pour one out, or just affix your noise-cancelling Bose headphones to the forgotten inner vestiges of you and absorb.

This piece is a warm, wet bath. It is the calming presence of the filtered light of autumn. It is the promise of a better life, rising from the most jagged and grotesque of ashes. It literally pulls at each of my heart strings. It is so perfectly loop-able (try it: you won't know where beginning and end are. They just coincide). Let it coat the edges of you that hurt. Let it smooth the fears of today; the hopes that ticked away with the movement of the minute. Let yourself be.

That is what Newman contrasts in the utter simplicity of "Brooks Was Here": life rising from absolution. Forever expanding beyond the finality of death.

What is it that is so effortlessly employed in this piece? The sustain. Diamonds aren't a girl's best friend; at least, not for this girl. The sustain pedal is. The thought that there is something, anything more than this. The hope that beyond the confines of work and home and organization, there is chaos and play and a world beyond sepulcher. Where sanguineous pain and salubrious ecstasy coexist in a place I only seem to be able to access in the most lucid moments of my dreams.

I turn twenty-six this month. For a birth year that would otherwise be fairly innocuous, this one perhaps carries more weight than any year I have lived thus far. For, at 26, I will have lived exactly half of my life knowing I have a possibly fatal heart condition and half of my life without.

Let that sink in.

Then let the inaccuracy of it float up. Because, truthfully, I lived with this heart condition from the moment of conception. The moment that earth and cosmic rays and biology and genetics all aligned for me to be, well, me. There may have been signs; coming last in sports, feeling more akin to the couch than the treadmill, or a deeper red permeating through the tell-tale blush of exertion.

But thirteen. Thirteen years of not fully knowing; not fully knowing who I was. Not understanding the undercurrent, the slowing humping and descending EKG of risk that lay, like a dormant volcano, 6 inches south of my lips. Just left of my spine; centimeters beneath my skin. A placid lock about to bubble with the girth of a fast-rising current. A shotgun poised with its safety off and the aimer's finger stiffly held on the trigger. A breath - caught. That is the secret, the damning evidence of this piece and scene. For it follows Brooks from release from prison to release from life. We don't know the fatal outcome going in to the scene. In retrospect, how could we not have known? In reality, we never would have.

So it is ache, it is fear, it is asunder. It is a phenomenal burden to know that the rest, and I repeat, the rest of my life will be spent knowing. If ignorance is bliss, knowing is anguish. For I am, for all of my breathing eternity, made to decay and regrow under the presence of knowing.

Now, I don't pretend to be doing anything else. I was my Freshman year in college when the head of our studio reinforced this by telling us that from the moment we are born, we being to die. Science validates this; at twenty-five my brain has ceased developing. My fertility will only fade from here, my skin lose elasticity and wrinkle in the absence of the replenishing power of youth to replace its supple contour. We all grow, and then we all decay.

If from now until forever I (and you, by the way) am dying, by neither choice nor power of decision, how do I go about living? How do I make the next 13 (and hopefully more) years as full of life, of questions, of beauty, of terrible and wildly brave mistakes? How do I gather all of the facets of my life, the tendrils that undulate betwixt my fingers and threaten to spill out of my grasp, and thrust them forward into the bright white light of future? How does Leilani Over-Commitment Graham find "that one thing" that thrills her beyond care for her own existence? What will I find that I would willing lay down my life for? Will I find it? Will you?

"Brooks Was Here." A lightly droning pluck of string, piano, and pulsation. A synth-ful sustain that reflectively lapses over our pervasive melody. Kind of like life, no?


I am currently listening to "Brooks Was Here" by Thomas Newman, from The Shawshank Redemption. The piece is linked above; the scene is linked below. A warning, the clip contains visuals of and references to suicide and violence.



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