We all experience trauma, it’s a part of the human condition. It can have much to do with our perception of the world. I find to great relief that there are tools now to process it and to improve our personal mental environment. I think this is a remarkable new luxury, considering how many generations before us have been forced to repress their emotional state.
I recently allowed myself to let my father know, how glad I was that he was my Dad. That he was the perfect Dad for me, despite his flaws, because of his flaws. Because it’s true, I would not be me without his bullshit and mum’s bullshit, and their lovely parts too of course. It took me a while to get to that point. It takes a long time for adults sometimes to forgive their parents, and to rest in the knowing that they really did do the best that they could, at that time, within those conditions.
The state of human suffering is very real, and nothing to be laughed at. We all suffer in some way from imperfect love and we all have a set of cards deriving from the set of conditions we are born into. We tend to pass them down if we do not take a close look at ourselves and resolve habits and beliefs born from pain.
But many stay enslaved in the circles in their heads. I have no judgment of this, it is understandable, I was in the same place for many years. The attention stays in the emotion, it festers, stays in the past, it lashes out, manifests in addiction and pains others. However, we do not have to be victims of circumstance, however heinous the damage. I will not give my power to those who have done me harm by harboring bitterness. I believe now we do not have to be a victim of it. It is true, I live in the first world, not a war zone. I do not have to toil for basic needs, like so many on this planet. There are so many reasons to be grateful. Just find them. Find Gratitude now. It lifts you. Choose it, it is a way in, or a way back, but it is a way.
This was a very therapeutic song for me. It connects me to my father’s sorrow and brings me to a very compassionate place for him. It has a few quintessential impulses that come together to forge a song for me. Songwriting was what saved me at boarding school. I could be my own shrink through my songs. Deep states of unresolved feelings could be made manifest into something lovely, honest, my source of secret nuggets of it’ll-be-ok-ness. One could disguise testimony in a ‘therapy-free-psychology-isn’t-a-real-subject’ world. (really, psychology was not an A-level offered at this school for that reason). I could get inside the words and sing from the inside. I am lucky that I found a way to save myself, I had the education, the variables the wear-with-all that ultimately made it real. In a push against my secret suicidal thoughts and playing field hockey in dark light, there was a secret lifelong liberation forged
My father, even though he went to the same school did not discover this unforeseen upside. He lost his mother in a car accident when he was very young. In true British fashion he was told in the head masters office and then sent back to class. Today one would hope that a child would be helped though such experience. Without a subtle and deeply considerate response, a child can be deeply afraid, of course. Pain congeals in the body, social norms do not allow its expression, it goes denied but it pulls, creating self indulgence, denying life itself, the existential human battle, the face of personal duality.
Dad both simultaneously revered women and tore them down. He missed her, and was afraid of rejection all at the same time. I learned from my dad what men really thought about women. They were undeniably cheap, their feelings meant little, they were usable, disposable, objectified and discarded. He was in some way too consumed by his own unresolved pain to know any differently. But damn was he was charming. He could make you feel so good. When you were having a good time, it made his good time better. I found myself attracted to that kind of man, what with him being personally archetypical an all.
My poor mother was in forced denial by overwork, poor woman. Where was her dignity, her honor? Or mine? Being female and desiring that distinction, the possibility of poise, basic worth and self respect, often felt futile in that environment.
But really where was his? I think it is true, I wouldn’t be a feminist without his experience and consequent behavior. He was acting out age old white male entitlement behaviors that had gone typically unchecked in an age of uninitiated men. And just so you know, I love men, I love my father, so so much, he is an amazing and beautiful creature at his core and this is one of the songs that helped me come back to that. My father lost his mother when he was 9 . Everyone was so self indulgently taking care of their own feelings, self medicating mostly with alcohol (which created the death in the first place). Death of a mother leaving behind young children is deeply traumatic in any culture. How is that child then cared for? How the immediate surrounding culture processes the experience is vital. How the experience plays out in the future will depend on the mental health of your future family.
Edge of you
On the edge of you,
we glue paper leaves to winter trees,
wrapped up teardrops, with rotting ribbon.
You'll open them later,
you never will
On the edge of you,
water falls to space.
The crevice took the path,
the hull has gone dissolved,
you're bleeding in the bath,
puncturing all resolve.
You'll patch it up later,
you never will
Songbirds stricken sobbing for your hearts arrest,
roots suspended in the eyes of the confessed.
Where does a young boys adoration grow?
Mother lost to the snow.
On the edge of you,
they just left you there.
A child's bewilderment,
at how skilled they were,
at the practice of
not feeling anything.
She'll return to you later,
she never well
released August 15, 2016
All of Nature
A collection of social commentary to music
By Sheila Nicholls
All Of Nature, Infinite Mind, God, Beyond The Wrath, An' It Builds, Edge of You, Caution To The Wind, Post-Revolutionary Victory Song, Joy In Store: Music and Lyrics by Sheila Nicholls
Back Into The Sky: Music by Sheila Nicholls, Lyrics by Sheila Nicholls and Reirani Taurima
Come To The Garden and Music Of The Spheres:
Music by Sheila Nicholls, Lyrics by Sheila Nicholls and Michael Bernard Beckwith
Reveal: Music by Sheila Nicholls and Dave Stringer, Lyrics by Lorin Roche from his translation of The Radiance Sutras
Executive producer - Curt Campbell
Produced by Sheila Nicholls, Mitchel Forman and Dave Stringer
Edited and Mixed by - Krishan Khalsa
Recorded By Pete Min and Krishan Khalsa
Recorded at Pete Min’s Studio, Lazy Bagel Studio and Feijoa Studio in Los Angeles, CA
Jacket Design: Dave Stringer & Sheila Nicholls
Andrew Synowiec: dobro, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, acoustic guitar
Chris Bruce: electric guitar
Danny Frankel: drums and percussion
Dave Stringer: featured vocalist on ‘Reveal’ and harmony vocals on ‘Infinite Mind’
Doug Webb: alto, tenor, baritone sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet
Gary Novak: drums
Jebin Bruni: keyboards and synthesizers
Kaveh Rastegar: stand up and electric bass
Mitchel Forman: piano
Nailah Porter: harmony vocals on ‘All of Nature’
Patrick Richey: tabla, cajon
Reirani Taurima: harmony vocals on ‘Back Into The Sky’ and ‘All Of Nature’
Shara Prophet: harmony vocals on ‘All of Nature’
Sheila Nicholls: vocals, piano
Tiwanna Floyd: harmony vocals on ‘All Of Nature’
Walt Fowler: trumpet, flugelhorn
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