Friday, June 30, 2006

Up on the watershed

"Thought I knew my mind like the back of my hand,
the gold and the rainbow, but nothing panned out as I planned.
They say only milk and honey's gonna make your soul satisfied.
Well, I'd better learn how to swim, 'cause the crossing is chilly and wide."
-- indigo girls, 'watershed'

You know, I've been thinking about the things Korea did for me. Korea, as I once put it in a conversation with a Canadian co-worker, is a beast that will climb up on your chest, sink in its claws, and rip off any escapist shield you had in place there. That was early in our tour of duty. It proved true for much of the time.

Here's one thing I've realized: Korea has given me a gift that is like none other. It has made me see/hear/appreciate not a few Indigo Girls songs in a new light. Now, we're talking Indigo Girls here. My Girls! I know every song by heart, I've seen them in concert 25 times, I own all the albums many times over, I recite the history and the trivia like an obsessed dork, and so on. You might think -- what could Linda possibly find new in an Indigo Girls song that she's been listening to for more than fifteen years? Well, Korea sure stepped right up to the plate for that challenge!

I mean - there was "It's Alright[sic]" back in January. I could handle that. And I can appreciate that I'm listening to the Rarities album in quite heavy rotation this week with a new perspective on my life, that one related to interpersonal issues as well. But "Watershed" - and "Closer to Fine" even?? Come on!

Yet it's true. At our cast party at the end of May, after the grueling, fulfilling production of Speak Truth to Power: Voices From Beyond the Dark had come to an end, we sat around playing the guitar and singing, in a beautiful, communal, free spirit life moment. I sang "Closer to Fine," with the help of wonderful Simon. who managed to play it after I just showed him the chords and away we went. And as I sang the chorus, I realized that I had, in fact, gone to the doctor (many times) and gone to the mountain (that very day!) and looked to the children (when had I done that in my life before?) And there really was "more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line."

Well that was "Closer to Fine," there. And it just continues, back here in the U.S. Because today I listened to "Watershed," as referenced above, and I heard something new. More from "Watershed" now:

"They say that it's never too late,
but you don't get any younger.
Well, I'd better learn how to starve the emptiness
and feed the hunger."

By the end of my time in Korea, I was involved in one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life, directing that production of Speak Truth to Power: Voices From Beyond the Dark, which we performed both in our Daegu Renaissance arts space as well as at the Korea Democracy Foundation's symposium in Seoul. There's a line in that play, spoken by Marian Wright Edelman, where she talks about looking around and realizing what life is about. "Everyone needs to open up the envelope of their soul," she says, "and get their orders from inside."

It's quite a thought. The play is full of inspiring words. I'm still pretty stunned that we pulled it off - and I'm really just astonished at the past year of my life, in general.

"Stepping on a crack,
breaking up and looking back,
every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait,
'til every step you take becomes a twist of fate."

It's not that I haven't been moved by these "Watershed" lyrics before. I've loved the song for a good long while, and rejoiced when the Girls dust it off and play it in concert. But when you really are moving down the path, and finally checking off items on your life's Things to Do list, it changes somehow.

"Up on the watershed,
standing at the fork in the road,
you can stand there and agonize
'til your agony's your heaviest load.
You'll never fly as the crow flies;
get used to a country mile.
When you're learning to face
the path at your pace
every choice is worth your while."

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