08 October 2012
songs that have spoken
I was in my final year of high school. I thought I was pretty awesome. Pretty cool. Pretty fun. Pretty great to be around.
It was a good feeling to feel invincible. We were the top of the school, the best at everything.
I couldn't wait to fly the nest. I had it all planned. One year to work and then off to the city to study and make something of myself. I was waiting for my moment to fly.
I was busy. There was music to play, equations to be learnt, King Lear to be read and memorised. I had friends to chat with, a busy social schedule, dreams to plan.
I wanted to see the world, finish my studies and open my eyes to the beauty and wonder that lay beyond school.
I remember one evening. I was playing music at a big fancy reunion dinner our school was throwing. 50 years, 75, I can't remember. It was just one of those things. Our school had a pipes and drums band and paraded us out at every opportunity. Who doesn't like the bagpipes?
The buzz of being on stage was electrifying. To stand and play with all eyes fixed on you is a feeling like no other. The music plays and when it stops you can bask in the applause. We played that night and drove back in the bus buzzing. Another job well done.
But I had forgotten my instrument. I left it behind at the function centre. In the car that had become "mine" I drove back to fetch it. A simple enough task. I walked in, retrieved my case and left. But as I left my world was changed. No huge moment, no physical scars but a memory that shattered my world.
There was a man there. Standing between the light of the centre and the safety of my car. He was drunk and made suggestions. I froze. This did not fit in with my awesome, cool, fun, great world. The confident girl, ready to fly was scared. She couldn't move. One step out of the light and the safety would end. I slipped back and frantically looked for someone I knew. All around me were smoking, drinking alumni and in front of me some man from the streets leering and gesturing.
A face in the crowd I recognised. Our school chaplain. I looked up at him in what must have been a hopeless withering stare. He came over and asked if I was ok.
This was an adult. The very type I had been longing to be independent of. The very people I thought I could do without. "Look at me flap my wings," I would say "I'm big enough to not need you anymore."
He led me through the clouds of smoke and past the scary man to the safety of my car and watched as I drove away. On that trip home I cried not because anything had really happened but because of the weakness I felt. It was the first time my independence had been tested. The first time it had failed.
I listened to one of my favourite songs "Blackbird" in a new light after that day. No longer did I see it as an anthem for freedom and independence but as a reminder that the little bird who flaps her wings and opens her eyes is still a fragile little bird.
"All your life, you are only waiting for this moment to be free."
I saw myself as this little bird, waiting to burst forth and be free but realising that the world can sometimes be a dark black night.
That night shocked my confidence and made me realise that I'm sure not indestructible. I thank God it was a lesson learned without harm. Things could have turned out so differently. I'm glad I found a friendly face in the crowd.
I listen to this song and I remember that night. I remember the little girl who began to grow up.