How it all fits together

Last week, I mentioned I saw an interview with Regina Spektor. The interviewer asked Regina about her approach to songwriting, and she surprised me by saying she doesn’t believe in sitting down to song writing sessions. She went on to say that she would never force herself to sit and write at any given time on a prescribed topic, even going to far as to say the idea was “disgusting” to her as she believed it lacked in authenticity.

I also saw an interview with Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars (I know. It’s become obvious I need to get a hobby), in which they discussed planning a writing session together which resulted in the song Safe and Sound. They happened to be in the same town on the same weekend with the idea to create a specific song for a film.

Admittedly, I know very little about music making or lyric writing or collaboration or art. The process of writing music mystifies me, but I imagine it can’t be too far off from creating art of any kind. Regina, Taylor, the Wars–all talented, all successful, but wildly different in method and approach.

Yesterday, I drove home with my son in the back seat of the car. We drove for a while with nothing but the soft hum of the radio in the background, and out of nowhere he said “Mom, my brain works differently than everybody else.” I asked him “How so?”, and he responded by saying he “thinks in a different way”. When he sees numbers in math or he plays music, he understands how everything is supposed to fit together. “Other kids don’t think the way I do. They just can’t see it,” he said.

I sighed with relief when his description didn’t involve talking voices in his head, but rather a proclivity for working with numbers. We talked and I told him I remember having those same feelings when I was a kid. I never read a book or received a writing prompt and interpreted it in the same way as everyone else. We talked about how our differences become our gifts. We may allow them to alienate us from others, or we may choose to embrace them and allow them to become our strengths.

Our conversation reminded me of the Taylor/Regina interviews. Each musician plays to her strengths, whether it be waiting on the Muse for inspiration or sitting down to the madness of six hours of forced writing. The rest of us may not see how it all fits together, but we trust the artist does. We trust they see it, and they present their gift to us in a way which allows us to see it too.

This applies to more than the artist. It applies to a ten year old kid who really digs math, and to the sixteen year old preaching sermons in his head while he mows the lawn. It applies to the seven year old girl who practices cutting her baby doll’s hair, and to the young woman who learns to give immunizations with a syringe and a ripe orange. It applies to you and to me.

How do you see things differently? Do you embrace it as a gift?