And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. Meister Eckhart
You are pulsing with divine life longing to spring forth (from my calendar)
We begin again to dream, weave the work of our hands and hearts, to revision the world, and refresh ourselves, for we are the green shoots of renewal. Sherri Rose-Walker
It was a Saturday night in March, a perfect time to try out our new subscription to Netflix. We, my husband and I, settled in with snacks and pillows and the trusty controllers, ready to dive into this wide world of exciting new possibilities. But before we even pressed the Netflix button on that small black Roku stick, we got sidetracked. Perhaps it was the song that drew us in, transfixed us into dropping the Roku all together and caving in to traditional TV and a PBS fundraising special. Petulia Clark was our host and it was the British pop invasion of the sixties and seventies that was the focus — and the song; it was the Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin. Of course, we’d be drawn in. It was a slow-dance special, our slow-dance special at the University of Maine Friday night keg parties, and, on Saturdays, a highlight dance at the Bounty Bar in Bangor. We hugged long and close and hot as we sort of swayed our way across the dance floor, seventies-style, to this song, and, here it was, forty-something years later wooing us in again on a Saturday night.
Except something was different. The concert audience that was taking in the music wasn’t a crowd of college freshmen from back in the seventies, girls in halter tops and granny glasses and guys in plaid bell-bottom pants, all guzzling beer out of plastic cups because we could in those days, legally, when the drinking age was eighteen. There were no halter tops, no plaid bell-bottoms, no adolescent fever-pitch swaying. Instead an amiable group of gray-haired sixty and seventy year olds was smiling appreciatively, some of them singing along, all sitting comfortably in their audience seats. No. This was present day and the crowd — well, the crowd was old. And so were the Moody Blues. And that felt okay to me. The magic of the song seemed to transcend time, still moved both Cam and I. It was a little later, however, that I started to feel uncomfortable. I think it was when Herman’s Hermits took the stage. Okay, there might have been a time when I was in love with Herman, before college and Cam, before high school and Cat Stevens, before Junior High and James Taylor. I’m talking way back, way back to Newell Elementary and fifth grade and the year I tore all the photos of guys I deemed cute from the pages of Tigerbeat Magazine and taped them on my bedroom wall, way back when I was sure I was going to marry Davy Jones from the Monkees.
I didn’t want to say it out loud, didn’t want to feel it, wanted instead to enjoy myself along with the concert audience when Peter Noone, who I used to know as Herman, turned on that exaggerated British accent and began belting out, “Mrs. Brown you have a lovely daughter . . .” And I admit that he looked good, still had a youthful vigor and he seemed to be enjoying himself wholeheartedly as he bounced around the stage. And maybe it was rude of me to interrupt his buoyant bouncing effort, to blurt out in the middle of Mrs. Brown and her lovely daughter, “Cam, this is ridiculous!” But I just couldn’t help myself. It did feel ridiculous to me on this particular Saturday night. It was one thing to take the memory train back to a slow dance at the Bounty Bar with Cam and the Moody Blues. It was another thing to find myself ten again in my house on Washington Street in Bath, Maine taping photos of teeny-bopper heartthrobs on my wall. After all, it was March, and, on this particular day, the sun had been shining and the snow had melted into puddles on the road, and I was feeling squirmy inside, ready for something new and forward-focused, something spring-like and bubbling to present itself to me. That’s when I thought about Bruce Springsteen.
Cam’s sister was the first to introduce us to Bruce Springsteen, the year after the Bounty Bar Moody Blues’ slow dances. She discovered Bruce before he was a face to tape on the wall and Cam and I were hooked from the get-go, and have been fans ever since. His lyrics are poetry and he pours body and soul into his performances and he is forever exploring his edge of the moment. We turned the TV off, googled him and spent the rest of the evening reading about his one-man show on Broadway. That’s what he’s up to these days, doing something new with the material of his life — sitting in a chair on a stage storytelling his New Jersey tales and mingling this with fifteen or so songs. Oprah said the show was transformational. Obama loved it. Reese Witherspoon exclaimed that she melted into a puddle of humanity within the first fifteen minutes. And on that March night, it was the freshness of Bruce’s new edge that energized me, that lit something inside, that got me wondering. What’s my new edge? What’s taking root beneath the surface that’s ready to sprout?
The puddles on the road froze back up, the snow that had been turning watery and corn-crystal-like in March became covered again with fresh layer after fresh layer of powdery wintery white. And a month after that March evening of spring-like squirminess, I was still skate-skiing with my winter coat zipped up high on trails groomed as if we had pushed the reverse button and were back in January. Whatever had been quivering beneath the surface sunk back into hibernation. Until now, that is, when the sun is blazing brilliant even on the cool jacket-zip-up days and the below-freezing nights, and the snow is gently melting and the grass, green blades of grass are poking through. I’m asking the question again, “What’s my new edge?” I’m not sure. I know the new is brewing. I feel it. A friend of mine read a poem to me the other day, written from the perspective of age looking back on youth, a poem about remembering the feeling of being twenty, the feeling of knowing everything and feeling it keenly with slow-dancing Moody Blues passion. My friend and I both agreed that we want to feel that thrill again. And I believe we can, not by trying to resurrect the past, not by taping the old faces back on the wall, but by being present to what wants to be taped up on our metaphoric wall now, today, in this moment. And if we relax and allow it, if we don’t resist and hold it under, the new, sure as spring follows winter, will poke its head out of the thawing ground and we will be face to face with something wonderful, something amazing, a new thrill to carry us forward. Happy spring everyone.