Monthly Archives: January 2015

It’s Goodnight From Me…

This is the first blog that I have ever written without the help of blue light! I am gazing at my screen (or beeldscherm as the dutch call it) through some newly purchased surround-sound orange tinted glasses which make me look slightly suspicious I’m afraid. It would probably be a worse look if they were matched with a polo neck jumper and tartan trousers. But even I have limits.

orange sunglasses photo: smiley glassesthumb.gif

What is blue light? Well, actually I don’t really know. Must remember to remember results of research!  But the glasses were a recommendation I read about in connection with our ability, or inability, to deal with excessive amounts of artificial light at night, which can in turn affect our sleep patterns. And although I have always been a relatively good sleeper, considering the various depressive episodes I’ve had, just recently I have been struggling to sleep. I think the cause is almost certainly this over active critical mass of grey matter under my skull. I say mass. Other opinions are available. But there’s definitely something going on up there. Fortunately I’m not worrying about anything really, or even particularly sad. It’s simply that I can’t help thinking about all the stuff (I do apologise for my over use of that particular word, but it is just so flipping useful) that I am doing, or could do, or will do.

I think that kind of thinking is probably fairly healthy isn’t it? But if it isn’t the thinking that’s doing for the sleeping, it could be the attempts I’ve been making to get earlier to bed, earlier to rise. I’ve always enjoyed, mainly I think because of my introverted nature and a large family, late nights alone. A time to think, or read, or sing (quietly) without ANYONE TO DISTURB ME. However, in regard to sleep, I seem to need a lot, and thus the late nights had a cost. I’m also attracted to the idea of getting up in time to do something, anything, of consequence before the day has really begun.

So I’m experimenting with sleep. I think I can do it better, and as it takes up such a large amount of my time, I feel that I should try to do it better. I’m not in a position to make any conclusions about the glasses yet, but I did notice last night that I felt more relaxed after wearing them a while. And sleepy. I dropped off quickly too. And I’m noticing a little of the same effect now. So I better come to a conclusion quickly. It would be a little bit too cliched to finish with a zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

David is a computer programmer.

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What do I say when I have nothing to say…

Hi smallword. It’s been more than a month since I wrote my last entry. I had a fantastic time in Chile. If you ever have the chance to visit the Torres del Paine National Park, do it. It’s simply amazing.

Back at home (or better said: where I live now), many things have happened that I didn’t expect. Things that I’ve felt compelled to share in public thanks to the extremely thin line between private/public that our Facebook generation has drawn. However, I believe it’s better to deal with them in the closeness of my thoughts and try to go through them quietly.

I haven’t written anything because what do I say when I have nothing to say? And I know that by saying that, I guess I’m saying enough… So, I better leave you with some photo memories of my trip. Abrazo!

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Finding My Fromness

IMG_1660 Hello Again Small Word! I’ve missed you.

This discussion of “fromness”—closely related to the concept of “home”—is one I’ve thought about a lot ever since graduating from high school and leaving “home” for the first time.

The transition from Lincoln, Nebraska to Orange City, Iowa was not that large. Not really. Not when you consider how large and diverse the United States is as a whole. One Midwestern state is often just as rural and farm-spotted as the next. Still, most Americans I know have a very strong sense of “state pride” and identity, so the contrast between any two states is really in the eye of the beholder.

For most of my four years of college/university, “home” was my parents’ house in Lincoln, Nebraska. By the time that I graduated, however, I had established a second sort of home in small-town Iowa. I could tell by the feeling I got when I went back to visit. Orange City held roads I had walked and trails I had run, coffee shops where I’d talked with friends until two in the morning and fields of stars that watched over my first relationship. I continued taking trips back for nearly a year post-college, and yet I would never say that I am “from” Iowa.

Post Storm

This is Nebraska

What I do say is that I am “from” the Midwest—a classification that is somewhat controversial, but which I identify with strongly. Probably because Midwesterners with their stereotyped friendliness, dogged work ethic, and lack of sophistication are “my people,” (whether or not I want them to be). I grew up in an urban city, the daughter of suit-clad actuary and a van-driving career mom, but two generations back, my people were farm people, rural people, hands-in-the-dirt and sweat-on-the-brow people. And somehow my spirit knows that, even though my actual experience of rural living is limited to four summers of field work and a handful of visits to our family farm in Holstein. Somehow I know that the Midwest is the base of my “fromness,” that it is part of what makes me who I am.

midwest

This is the Midwest

 

And yet my family has only really been “from” the Midwest for a little over 100 years. The United States is still so young that few of us are really “from” America if we trace our history back far enough. Four generations ago my family was from Germany, even the branches of it that had relocated to Russia in order to acquire more land in the late 19th century. They referred to themselves as “Germans from Russia” even after they immigrated to the States (there is an entire museum in my home city of Lincoln, that is dedicated to the Germans from Russia). I have not been to Germany, but I wonder if I would have an experience similar to Mikel’s. I wonder if I would find a sense of belonging and identification that is even stronger than my feelings toward the Midwest and my loyalties to its farms and fields.

germans from russia

These are Germans from Russia

 

I have never identified very strongly with being an American, except perhaps during the ’96 Olympics, on the Fourth of July (American Independence Day), or when learning about US participation in the world wars (which is unavoidably biased).

Sometimes national loyalty heightens when you leave your country of origin, which I did for the first time when I studied in Oxford. But rather than discovering a love and longing for my homeland, I found myself developing a deep affection for England. So deep, in fact, that I returned to England after finishing university and spent five months in the Derby loving a whole other side of the country. When I went back to England for the third time in 2013, I reflected on the evolution of that relationship and the odd extent to which I’d come to identify with a country that was not my own.

england-group-Tours2

This is England

For long time I believed that England was the country in which I should have been born, that I was European (maybe even British) at heart and had been living out of context for the better part of my life.

Now that Europe and I have had some time apart, I no longer feel that is true. I think what is more true is that I am a lover of stories and of history, and Europe is a place that holds stories and histories that my own country does not, stories that I was hungry for by the time that I made it to Oxford. Europe is also the place where my heart grew up—twice. It is the place where I first developed a global perspective, where I first opened myself to connecting with other cultures and languages and people and customs. That connection is what was and is at the core of my being—the belief that we are the same because we are human, no matter where we are from.

And finally, Europe was the place that I learned to love what I had left behind and to value the heritage that I have. To that end, Europe is where I found my “fromness,” and to it I have attached all that those experiences taught me.

San Francisco Skyline from Tiburon, California

This is the Bay

 

I currently live in California. I love everything about the Bay Area, aside from the cost of living (which is significant). I love the blending of cultures and the diversity and the ocean and the landscape, the farm fresh produce, organic coffee, homegrown herbs and the small batch everything. I love the energy and the artwork, the innovation and ingenuity. But I will never be “from” California. I will always be from elsewhere. Even when a transplant thrives in a new environment, its origins are in its roots.

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Droom Je Al?

I’m under the influence of a strange virus. So I’m going to keep this short but sweet. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I was going to improve my Dutch over the following months. In my mind (I don’t think I said it out loud) was a plan to write my first song in my wife’s mother tongue. I was thinking I’d give it a crack in the second half of the year. But during a sleepless night a couple of weeks ago I had a dutch phrase going through my head. And then the start of a tune. So I got up and wrote what has turned into a Dutch lullaby, that I hope my son and daughter-in-law will sing to our first grandchild in waiting as a reminder of his or her Dutch heritage. It took a bit of work to get it right, but I’m pleased to say that it only needed slight correction from Ineke.

Learning a language is hard work. I’m not stupid, but despite the promises you sometimes hear of “learn a language in 3 minutes”, in truth it’s about sticking with it through the many times when you feel like you are making no progress whatsoever. I already had something of a foundation and I feel, now I’ve got a song under my belt, that the sky is the limit. A Happy Birthday to Daniel, the Dad to be, and also to Liam.

So here it is. The title in English (in which it wouldn’t sing half as nicely) is “Are You Dreaming Already?”. Please feel free to sing along! Or you could wait till I release it as my Fee Comes Fourth song in May.

David Fee

Droom Je Al?

De Wind zij zingt een lied voor jou
Zodat jij in slaap kunt vollen
Jij bent moe maar zij vliegt nou
Over de hele wereld te waaien
Droom je al? Droom je al?

En de maan is jouw bewaker toch
Als hij langst jouw raampje zeilt
Gaapt gelijk een grote grot
Als hij rond de aarde draait
Droom je al? Droom je al?

Droom je over hooge bergen
En de snieuw dat ligt erop
Slaap jij rustig zonder zorgen
Totdat de zon op onze deur klopt
Droom je mee? Droom je mee?

De sterren in de hemel staan
Een gids voor meeuwen en voor mensen
En Liefde zal nooit meer vergaan
Wij zullen altijd van je houden

Droom je al? Droom je al?
Droom je al? Droom je al?
Slaap je al? Slaap je al?
Droom je mee? Droom je mee?
Slaap je al? Droom je al?

And here are some of my English language songs

FROM One Land But FROM Another People – By Mikel Azure.

David’s first line, referring to where he was from as distinct from where he now considers home fired off a rumination in me.  I was born here in Australia, and unlike many city living Aussies, I have travelled a lot of this country and I’ve connected to the land in a down to earth way, literally, sleeping on the ground, camping, hiking, lots of “being out there” alone in the Australian wilderness.

BUT.

When I travelled to the UK and spent six weeks walking the paths of Cornwell and living in a tiny little old stone fisherman’s croft where I had to duck my head to get thru every doorway safely I discovered that I felt like I was FROM that landscape.

BUT.

When I then travelled to Germany for two weeks, living alone in a small room in Mitlechtern (SW Germany, half way between Frankfurt and Heidelburg.) and befriending many wonderful German souls I felt like I was FROM the German people.

Both of those feelings were singular experiences.   I have never felt that sense of “being from” in that same way at any other time.

I know the family tree information that tells me that at least one side of my Father’s clan originated from the miners of Cornwell and one side of my Mother’s family originated in Germany but that information holds no fire.

The memory of what it felt like walking the Cornish landscape has fire in it.  The sharp stones, the rain, the wind and the dramatic contrast between long farmed pastures and nakedly savage coastline existing one step apart.  Fire.

The memory of seeing myself, repeatedly, on the streets of Heppenheim or Heidelberg.  The memory of fitting with the German ways of being together, the astonishing and wondrous sensation that constantly visited me as I interacted with the people of Germany of –  ‘these people know me’.  My tears of grief after only two weeks, on the day I had to leave Germany and my new friends.  I have never cried on leaving the country of my birth.  I have never cried leaving any other country I’ve visited.  Leaving Germany felt like leaving something deeply important, important beyond the scope of my words to evoke.

I love Australia, I was born here, I was formed here and my soul has prospered here.  Our current crop of political leaders, are a blight on our values and our potentials but they don’t take away the deep values of equity and equality that are part of the Australian values landscape, values that I hope will one day bear the fruit of true justice and equity for all the Aboriginal peoples white australia has dispossessed and brutalized over the last two hundred years and bear also that same fruit for women and children in general, who continue to be disadvantaged by male entitlement, even from well meaning blokes like me.

I love that I come from this country with its deep value of equity and equality,  I am proud of these values and lucky to have been suffused with them all my days.

Still, my body and soul has given witness to the truth:

I am not from the Australian land, I am from lands far from here and when I visit those lands they speak to me in a way my beloved Aussie land does not speak.

I am not from the Australian white culture, I am from the German soul, tens of thousands of km from here and when I visit there I am welcomed in a way that never happens among my own culture.

All I can do in concluding this reflection is to gently rub the Existentialist stone that has helped me make sense of my life for over thirty years – no person is simply  Being   we are all, intrinsically,    Being-in-relationship.

My own witness to myself is that I am from ( in-relationship-with) a multiplicity of grounds.

Flying Carrots

Rabbit Flying a Carrot Plane
I stay in Campbeltown, as they say in these parts. Technically I’m from Nottingham, the place of my birth and a few years of my upbringing. But in truth, these days, I consider myself to be from Campbeltown. After a fairly migrant childhood and early adulthood, myself and my family have lived on the peninsula of Kintye for over 18 years, and in Campbeltown for the last 10. It’s where, for the first time in my life really, I seem to have established some roots. My children have mainly grown up here, and although in one sense I will always be an incomer, I do feel part of the community. And although I plan to do plenty of travelling, I see Campbeltown as being home until the day I die.

Campbeltown at 4000ish people is the largest place  from here until Oban, which is a 2 hour drive away. It’s not really complicated to describe where you’re from round here. If you live in a village such as Carradale (the first place we lived in Kintyre) that’s where you’re from. If you live on an isolated farm, that’s where you’re from. The vast metropolis that is Campbeltown has small subdivisions that would only make sense to people who live here. And if I was talking to people outside the town I might say, I’m from Campbeltown in Kintyre. It would probably be Campbeltown, Argyll (the larger County area), except for the fact that a certain Paul McCartney made Kintyre fairly well recognisable through his song, Mull of Kintyre.

Having somewhere to be from has gotten more important to me as I grow older. And I do feel really quite blessed to be finding my roots in this part of the world, because coming from Campbeltown, Kintyre really means something. I’ve been back to a suburb called Beeston, in Nottingham where we’d lived for a few years before emigrating (!) to Scotland. It has a fairly central pedestrianised shopping centre. It was home. But walking  through Beeston centre I didn’t see a soul that I knew. That would never happen in Campbeltown. I’m sure if I went away for however many years, and came back, I would straight away be seeing familiar faces as I walked along Main Street. And that is despite the fact that many young people in particular do move away. Because even those who move always belong to Campbeltown: it has such a strong sense of place. That seems to be quite a rare thing these days, and I wonder if those who have lived here all their lives appreciate how special that is. Actually, I think they probably do.

In regard to Mikel’s comments about how people in general describe where they’re from to strangers, I would say most people tend to provide a recognisable hook that the listener would be familiar with. Hence it would make sense to me, whether you were from Melbourne, Boston or, yes, Timbuktu to tell them that as an introductory taster. Perhaps folk who aren’t aware of the wider world might jump in with an unrecognisable suburb in the assumption that their world is the only world. I think there are still people in Kintyre who have never been outside it’s borders. But surely that is the exception these days? Or perhaps not.

Anyhow, in my opinion having roots is great. And having wings is fantastic too. But hey, why not both, say I.

David

My Songs

Suburb/Town or City or State or Country or None or All (For Abner)

Here is something I’d never thought about until I had, for a couple of years, an American girlfriend who lived in the New England area of the US and I had some conversations with her about the topic I am about to open up.

It is kind of about identity, where we place ours, where we see ourselves as “from”.

There is a very clear difference between how most Australians do this and how most New Englanders do it.  It just occurred to me today that it might be interesting to see how other folk “do” this…

OK, so if you are an international traveller that I meet overseas or online and I tell you I am from Australia and you ask me, “where do you live in Australia?”  my answer will be “I live in Melbourne”.  Most Australians will answer that same question in that context the same way – I live in Perth, I live in Hobart, I live in Sydney…..   we all would mean that we identify as being from that city of one million or three million – the WHOLE city, not from the tiny part in the centre of the sprawl that has the name “City of Melbourne”.

An American from Massachusetts, for instance, would not say “I’m from Boston”  they would say “I’m from Quincy” or “I’m from Westwood” or some such.  By which they mean they identify as being from one particular SUBURB of the greater city of Boston.  But you see, they don’t think of each suburb the way Australians think of suburbs, for good historical reasons.  At one time in the past Boston was one township and Quincy was a whole separate township, two different, and even competing towns setup by entirely different groups of pioneers, usually merchant centred groups.   Australian settlement pattern and process was different,  large town centres were FAR FAR apart, far from the original settlement of Melbourne, or Perth.  Those first towns spread out from the centre under centralized colonial control and each new area that was turned into housing was always only see as a suburb of the greater city, each was seen as a part of Melbourne, or a part of Hobart.  So where Australians identify with the whole urban sprawl of the “Greater Melbourne” area or the “Greater Brisbane” area, no such concept exists in the parts of the USA that I experienced personally.

While I understand the historical genesis of this difference I still cannot, emotionally, get any grasp on the concept of telling someone, “I’m from Balwyn” when they ask me where I live in the state of Victoria.  I come from Melbourne, nothing else “makes sense” to me.   And that is part of the point of this –  we MAKE sense of reality, we shape it, we frame it, we selectively value it.  How we answer the question, “Where are you from?” requires us adopt a frame of reference, to identify with, or against, one place, one community, one group, one label…..in doing that we are making sense, creating sense, creating one shape from clay that could be shaped many other ways.  But we often don’t realize we are shaping clay, we often think we are simply doing the only possible thing, we think we are seeing the shape of the clay instead of giving the clay shape.

All kinds of historical flows are involved in this very personal identity question.  Seeing as the settlement and development histories of our bloggers’ countries are all quite different I thought that this concept of what subset of the nation we each take our identity from might be interestingly different.

Now there are always exceptions to any generalization,  there are some suburbs or areas in some cities in Australia where the sense of “us against them” may very well generate a much tighter sense of identity and some people from those suburbs might actually say, for example, “I’m from Heidelberg” rather than “I’m from Melbourne” because they feel excluded from the larger community of Melbourne, they might feel like outsiders or excluded or labelled, so why would you identify with a large community that excludes you or labels you?

I’m also sure there are times when people from Boston might proudly and loudly say, “I’m a Bostonian”, but I don’t really know what those times might be – except maybe when the Sox beat the Yankees?

So what other varieties of answers are out there for the question, “Where are you from?”?

Two In The Trunk, Two On The Back

I can just about speak English. It is a fantastic language to play with. Great for creativity. So many possibilities, but learning to control those words, master them, have them do exactly what you want, when you want them to…well, that is totally another kettle of ice cubes.

It is of course a tremendous advantage to speak English as one’s mother tongue in today’s world. But it does also tend to make we native speakers lazy. Taking so much for granted. Easier to remain in our own cosy world when we don’t have to take the trouble to get into someone elses head via their mother tongue.  Because learning a language, I am beginning to suspect, is not quite as simple as translating one set of words into another set of words. It’s about adapting a whole “other” mindset.

I think the way we use words in our native language probably says a lot about who we are as people. As I try to learn Dutch I also try and do, with Dutch words, a little bit of what I try to do with my very own English ones. I try and use them to say it differently. In an unusual way. Because that is what tickles my fancy, and it is very important I think, to have one’s fancy tickled regularly. I recently needed to clarify with my Dutch wife, Ineke, that when I ask for correction (ahem) of my attempts to say something in Dutch, I want her to correct my grammar, not the actual MEANING of what I am trying to say.

For instance. I might try to say: the elephant eats a car after going for a bike ride (de olifant eet een auto nadat hij heeft gefietst). Or something equally useful.  I’m not sure that my dutch translation there is correct. BUT, it is only my grammar that I want you to correct my dear. I do not need you to tell me that “nobody would say that”. I just said it. Therefore…somebody WOULD say that. Am I saying it correctly, leaving aside the in-correctness of WHAT I am saying?

Elephant

However, it is also possible that Ineke is simply telling me the truth. The people of the Netherlands  tend to be very direct  and practical (as a general rule)  and it is quite possible that, when it comes to language, few dutch folk would be likely to comment on something quite  as pointless, made up, and wasteful as   the anti-automative dietary requirements of your typical cycling pachyderm. And I might be getting my trunk in a twist if I start using Dutch in exactly the same way as I use English.

I’m certainly not trying to say that the good people of the Netherlands are incapable of writing a poem. Anymore than I would say that English folk can’t be excellent engineers just because they get into a panic about a few big puddles, whilst the Dutch are keeping the oceans at bay. But surely the tools of language are going to reveal something about us.

Anyhow, although having a mountain of words to play with can be beneficial, I do actually think that limitation can be a very potent fuel to creativity too. Needs must. In the light of this, I plan to write a song in Dutch before the end of the year. Possibly about an elephant that eats one too many cars.

BTW, does anybody know how many Minis can fit into an elephant?

David

And here is my latest Fee Comes Fourth tune, called A Cord Of Three Strands

Five Universals

IMG_1660After a long stretch away from It’s a Small Word (sorry friends), I find there have been many much things to read and many much things to discuss. This was true two weeks ago when I began this post and it is even more true now. I’m going to start with a response to Mikel’s blog on “the universals” of humanity. There are a great many things that tie us together as people, a whole lot of universals that surpass all of the idiosyncrasies and specificities and cultural norms and mores that distinguish us from one another. Based my observations and interactions with a small portion of the world’s population, these are some of them.

5. Parties:

DJ-party-image2

Today is New Year’s Eve—an eve on which many people throughout the year will celebrate. They will gather in groups and get dressed up and go to parties and eat fancy hors d’oeures and drink too much champagne and stay up too late and at the stroke of midnight they will kiss and shout and shoot off fireworks and sing songs. They will do all of these things because they are human and because a new year is as good a reason as any to throw a party and to celebrate. Now, most of my New Year’s Eve’s have looked more like me in my pajamas eating cheese, watching the Twilight Zone and stepping outside to listen to the world sigh sometime around midnight, but that is beside the point. We as humans, regardless of race or religion or status or gender, need to celebrate. The world can be dark and cold and bitter and cruel, making it all the more necessary for us to hold to light like a candle in a black out, to celebrate that which is exceptional and unusual, to break up monotony and routine with moments of recognized grace. So we celebrate. We light lanterns and shoot firecrackers and sing songs and chant mantras. We say prayers and don costumes, and make the foods we never eat on normal days but that we always eat on the days that are anything but normal. We celebrate birth and death and beginnings and endings, weddings and bar mitzvahs, promotions and housewarmings. We throw parties to send people off and parties to welcome them home. We celebrate religious days and seasonal festivals, annual pilgrimage and days of independence. We celebrate because we can and we celebrate because we must. Because there is brokenness and anger and depression and despair. And wholeness and joy and forgiveness and hope.

4. Children/Babies:

babies

I have never been a “baby person.” Never. I wrote an entire two-part blog post on this subject, (which you can find here). I have warmed to babies in the past two years (aunthood, nannying, and being an au pair helped with this), but I’m still somewhat selective with my infant affections. Still, babies in general are universally loved. We ooh and ahh over their tiny little hands, chubby little cheeks, heart-warming smiles and confounded expressions. We start speaking to them in “baby talk,” even those of us who swear we’ll never do that to our children. We shush them and bounce them and bundle them and kiss them. We cannot help ourselves. They are our progeny, our future, our DNA living on for another generation. Evolutionary theory tells us that this is the basis for most of instinctual actions—the survival of our genetic information. But I think that really, it’s a little more complex. We may innately need to see something survive, but I don’t think it’s our DNA. I think it’s hope. And children are the evidence that hope will live on.

3. Sleep:

man-sleeping

Let is be said right now that sleep is vastly underrated in the United States. We live and strive and work for the day that we can rest and retire and vacation, but seriously, sleep is not valued enough. I speak for myself as well. I have the strongest affection for my bed, the place in which I most often find the sweet gift of sleep, but we do not spend nearly enough time together. A friend once told me, “People think that they know what they value most in life. Let them go without sleep for a week and they will almost certainly change their minds.” Regardless of how many hours your body needs to function well, I think that sleep (also rest in its various forms, but really, sleep) is something we universally love and need. We may not love that we need it, but such is the state of our bodies.

2. Collaboration:

bing bowie

There are many individualists and independents and introverts out there (and I claim to be all of these things), but there is still something that we seem to universally appreciate about collaboration and teamwork. Whether it is the unexpected musical collaboration of Bing Crosby and David Bowie, the creative collaboration of Disney Animation and Pixar Studios, or a feel-good story about a brother and sister opening California’s first Italian-style wine shop, at our heart of hearts we love to see partnership. We love when enemies become friends, when old lovers get back together, when teammates secure a victory and friends come to one another’s rescue. We love Frodo and Sam, Batman and Robin, [insert culture-appropriate duo here]. We like to see and celebrate teamwork. We might be a little afraid of it, a little hesitant to trust anyone who has the power to deceive or destroy us, but at our heart of hearts, I believe that humans value collaboration. And this is one of the reasons why…

1. Connection:

connection

Now more than ever, I am absolutely convinced of the essential importance of human connection. Whether or not you believe that the story of humanity began with a lone guy hanging out in a garden, humans were not meant to be alone. I value my time to myself as much as the next introvert, but I also crave to be seen and heard and understood. It has been the driving force of my being longer than I have realized, and it is the subject around which nearly all of my writing revolves.

The past two weeks I have been away from California. I have been in Kansas City and Nebraska, where I have been eating pastries, exchanging presents, writing cards and drinking lots and lots of coffee. I have intended to read books and write blog posts, to make my way through that list of “Things I Want to Do Over Break,” but all of that has taken a back seat to what I have really been doing, which is connecting. I have connected with a dozen members of a disbanded small group in Kansas City and been vulnerable with a pastor who has listened to my heart cry many tears. I have stayed with a college friend turned adult friend turned life friend and her husband, visited my parents and siblings and a cousin all grown up. I’ve reconnected with a high school teacher and a middle school youth director, a girl I met in preschool and friends I didn’t know until college. And I have been surprised time and time again at how easily I’ve picked back up with these people I haven’t seen for months and years and even a decade. There are connections I wish I could make, connections to people with whom relationship has been broken. But connection is a two-way street.

Maybe that’s what makes it such a gift. Because it requires that both parties open their hearts and bestow forgiveness, that each of them rolls out the welcome mat and offers an embrace. We all welcome in our own ways and with our own customs and words and actions and expression, but the connection itself is universal. It transcends language and culture and all kinds of division. It is the reason we have this blog, the reason that we write, and the reason that we read.

https://destinationsanfranciscoblog.wordpress.com

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The Commitments by David Fee

I would like to wish all readers and fellow bloggers a very good year ahead.

The last one was, from my point of view, excellent. I did stuff. I started other stuff. And I carried on doing stuff that I had previously committed to doing. And that is how I choose to measure my days these years. Because as a man of variable emotional states it would be foolish to measure anything by how it makes me feel. I’m as pleased to encounter a good feeling as  the next person. But when I start to chase those groovy feelings, or try to bottle them, or wait for them to arrive before I act…then I find that inaction and stagnant decay are likely to follow. Followed by bad feelings. It is commitment that has started to crack the whip in my heart. Because it is commitment that has proven itself to build anything of worth or lasting durability and beauty in my life. Sometimes despite myself. And it is not that I don’t get the fun to be had in cruising for a while: taking it easy and letting things run their course. In fact I think the ability to be able to do just that, at the right moments, is crucial to making commitment work.

Never-the-less, if I have no destination towards which I am aiming, nor a determination to get there, I know what happens to me. Nothing. And not just to me. When I refuse to commit then not only do I suffer, but so too do  the unknown “others” who might have been blessed if I had simply stuck with it. That’s not arrogance. That is simply an acknowledgement that I can make a difference, just like you can. So I plan to do more stuff this next year. And of course, in my head at least, it is good stuff. Stuff that will make my life better, and the world a better place. Most of it is about continuing what I started in 2014 or even before. So:

I plan to carry on releasing a newly recorded  song on the fourth of every month, as I have been doing since June 2o12. Thirty One songs so far. The one to appear in two days time is called “A Cord Of Three Strands”. This is a commitment, but it is also an incredibly fun privilege.

I plan to be here every monday (as I’m afraid I failed to be on the last two occassions, for no other reason than I was listening to my mood, rather than acting on my previously made commitment) with a blog of words written for anybody who dares to read them.

I plan to start getting the Homesong gigs more cemented into my life. To hold one in our house every month. To start a site specifically to promote the idea of Homesong. And to try and get at least one other Homesong venue off the ground between Campbeltown and Glasgow.

I plan to move much closer to being fluent in Dutch. I don’t like only being able to “get by” in that dang language. I’m going to crack it this year, by hook or by crook. Ik beloof! And for anyone who fancies having a bash at a language, or improve one they can already speak a little, I recommend Duolingo.

So those are my main personal, and now public aims, over and above my ongoing commitment to be the best husband, dad, foster dad and friend I can be. As well as kind to myself of course! It’s good to tell you about them, because it makes them more concrete. I’d be more than happy if you chose to hold me account for any of this. In fact I would see it as an act of friendship.

So all the best to you. Have a very blessed year full of dramatic dreaming and dare-devil doing. And fun. These are my choices. Make your own!

Love from
David

My Songs