True North

So, as I sit here doing chemo, I’m listening to Trisha Yearwood on the iPod. I really like her. She’s a powerful vocalist who’s just “right” (at least in my opinion) in the way she delivers a song. As I sang along in my head (not all patients appreciate being serenaded by country music so I have to make certain that my sing-along is silent and not out loud), I once again wondered what it must be like to make a living doing the thing you are the most passionate about and love the most. My dream was always to “make it” in music. Don’t misunderstand, I didn’t necessarily want to be rich or famous, it’s just that music is my passion. For me, music is life to the mind and spirit as surely as breath is life to the body. That music is life to the soul is a simple, incontrovertible truth for my life. Perhaps it’s simply that music is an action of creation whether you’re writing or performing music. I am probably the closest I can come to God when I’m engaged in music. How can you not be closer to the Creator if you’re engaged in the act of creation?

Some people get this and instinctive understand it. I play piano for our church and treasure the time before the service begins when I’m simply playing. People are coming in, greeting one another, and not really listening to the music. This is my time to commune with the Creator through music. My worship begins here. Some people instinctive understand this. One day, a gentleman from the congregation came up to inquire as to how I was doing with my treatments. After answering him, he said, great – I’ll let you get back to your worship. He instinctive understood what is was about without being told. I thought that was awesome that he understood God gave us music so we could pray without words.

As I continued to listen to the music, I was struck by a simple truth that we all know but rarely talk about. Somehow we idolize the wealth and fame of others. But, there are some things in life which are universal to all of us – good health, the value of a true friend, sisters of the heart, a spring day, the treasure that is family, and so many more simple pleasures of life. These things are good and true and lovely regardless of where you are in life. Rich or poor, exalted or someone who’s name will only be remembered in the stories that are passed down from generation to generation – they’re true for all of us. With a little hard work, different luck and a better draw of the cards, perhaps I would have made it in music. But the reality is that regardless of what my journey might have been, I would still be where I am today. I would still have cancer, still be in a chemo lab, still fighting this battle.

Tragedy strikes all of us – the Saks Fifth Avenue shoppers and the WalMart queens, presidents, heads of states, and janitors. Underneath it all, we’re the same Life happens and it happens regardless of our social status, race, or economic status. Jobs go away, accidents happen, loved ones die, and people get sick. When the unthinkable comes – when your values and belief systems are challenged and shaken to their very core – the key to survival is knowing what you believe. What is your compass? I like to think of it as understanding where your true north lies. Where does your inner strength come from? Believe me, storms blow ships off course – even ships with the most diligent and capable captains. When you’re pounded by life, what is your true north? When you click your heels three times and say no-place-like-home, will your compass be there pointing to true north to show you the way home?

Most of us think we know what our core values are, but then, sometimes, we’re merely giving lip service to a mantra learned – or perhaps adopted as a young adult to fit in with the crowd. When the trial comes – the test you never thought you’d face knocks and your door and enters without permission – make sure your foundation is firm. Sometimes, the only control we have is our choice of how we respond to the crises at hand. Knowing who and what you are, at least for me, has made all the difference in the world. It’s enabled me to stand and to have peace and joy. Life is still good – despite cancer, despite chemo – life is good. I know where my foundation lies and I know it won’t let me crumble.

(c) 2013 Mary Kyle. All rights reserved

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