Dealing with change is a major challenge for me. Continuing to move forward when routines and schedules are in flux may be my biggest weakness. While processing a period of change, imagery of a flowing river carrying particles toward its terminus came to mind. All the gathered bits of earth travel along, like sand flowing in an hourglass, and are eventually deposited to create something new at the delta.
Mississippi River Delta. Credit: Nasa Images
A eureka moment happened when it occurred to me that delta is also the symbol used to represent change in an equation. The recognition of multiple meanings for words like ‘delta’ and ‘current’ was intriguing. Sand represented both the passage of time and parts of my routines that were changing. New land is created at the terminus of a river, just like the grains of my life were shifting to eventually create new routines.
Writing this poem helped me get through that time of change. I realized change occurs with breakdown of status quo but also creates something new and fertile.
Let’s take a ride on the river together.
The ability of certain smells to stir memories is fascinating. The scent of Murphy’s Oil Soap puts me in the library of my elementary school where the sour scented soap was used to clean shelves. The aroma of a pepperoni Totino’s Party Pizza instantly transports me to my grandmother’s living room in Rising Sun, Indiana. Spending the weekend with grandma meant Friday evening in front of the TV watching “The Dukes of Hazzard” while splitting a pizza with her and my brother. Food and entertainment quality aside, those are good memories indeed.
There is one aroma with more power than anything to send me back in time. Organic solvents cut through my brain nearly halting every other bit of sensory activity. For decades, my dad worked in a factory around lacquer paint and solvents. The smell of those chemicals would latch onto the fabric of his clothes and then announce his arrival home each weekday afternoon. My brother and I joke that we could always small our dad before we saw him.
On those afternoons when dad arrived home in all his aromatic wonderfulness, he also brought a sense of comfort and protection. There was a period in my childhood when it was just the three guys – me, my brother and my dad.
Each afternoon my brother and I would come home after school, have a snack and watch cartoons while waiting for dad to get home. Sure, it was nice to be home, but until the trio was complete the world was unsettled. Having that solvent smell waft in the door brought balance.
On a recent morning I was walking around an area of my office building that was undergoing renovation. An overwhelmingly pungent smell of organic solvents poured from the door of the suite. It was so strong I felt a bit lightheaded, but as with anytime those aromas enter my nose, memories were set free.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s second annual INfusion Music Festival took place this past May. One of the festival concerts was very different from the usual live symphony experience. The first half presented Liquid Interface, a composition by Mason Bates. It blends the orchestra and electronic sounds with shifts between the two occurring seamlessly. Liquid Interface is described by the composer as “a piece inspired by water in its variety of forms, inhabiting an increasingly hotter world in each progressive movement.” It was fascinating how the sounds of the live orchestra and synthesized elements created flowing streams and dripping water. The air felt as if it was cooled with the evaporation of sound.
The second half was an equally amazing experience, combining the powerful lyrics and vocal talent of Amos Lee with the full Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. At times the orchestra provided a beautiful lush backdrop; while other times the orchestra added a power and richness to Amos Lee’s performance that was transporting.
This was another case of a mesmerizing live musical performance triggering my creative flow and I had to capture the words as soon as possible. Typically, I would reach for my phone to make a few notes, but there was no way to do that during the concert without being disruptive. So, as soon as the final song ended and everyone leapt to their feet in a standing ovation, thumbs flew into action creating a stream of text messages to myself. A great deal was captured in that moment, and once I was home, the poem was put on paper in one rapid-fire release. Some of the lines I do not yet understand, but nothing was filtered out as words poured onto the paper. No doubt Liquid Interface, Amos Lee and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra filtered through my mind and spirit that evening to allow creation of a “River of Light”.
The moon is often very prominent in the sky during my morning commute. The cool silvery glow is a perfect transitional light from the period of rest and renewal at home to the mentally intense part of the day at work.
Photo credit: NASA Images
On one summer morning something in the sky was different. An object with a bright golden incandescence hung in the sky very near the moon. I assumed it was a plane, yet the object never moved position. During the remainder of my drive, the moon and this other jewel in the sky remained as a pair.
From a google search for star near moon in the sky, I learned it was not a star glowing near the moon, it was a planet – Venus. Immediately, my mind began racing. There is a great deal of symbolism associated with Venus in art and mythology. The allure and feminine mystique of Venus ignited my creativity and this poem resulted.