Finding the Groove

“It is all about the space in between the notes, that’s the groove” Shauna Niequist Present Over Perfect.
I have not posted for the last few days because sometimes life gets in the way of writing. I have been reading this book and hearing this phrase “it is the space between the notes” that the true music is made…I read it in her book and I have heard it all through my musical career. I am learning this applies to life. I have not posted in the last few days and have counted it as a failure because I committed to the challenge of writing for 31 days on the topic of noticing the little things and, while I noticed them, I chose not to spend time posting them. I have counted my lack of posts as a failure–a big pock mark on this challenge. I can’t stand pock marks and often count whatever is riddled with them, as garbage. I abandon it. I give up because it does not measure up to the standard I laid out in my head. I said I would write for 31 days, I have not. Pock mark!  
I remembered that beautiful music is made from the space between the notes– the space between the beats–the silence. All of existence is mostly empty space…the space between atoms, empty space. Innovative music is made by knowing the rules and bending or breaking them artfully. We don’t throw that music away as garbage. We think it is beautiful and new and different and fresh. We embrace it. There is plenty going on in the space between notes, and beats. The silence allows us to pause, gather all that we have experienced up to that point and assimilate it. To make sense of it, to be mesmerized by it. To be ready and willing to experience what will come next. We need that breathing room and it is not garbage…it is essential!  
The Journey

By Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.
In Shauna’s chapter Stars she references this poem by Mary Oliver and then writes:  
“In the city, you can’t see the stars for the city lights. But at the lake, and in the country, the stars are so bright you can practically read by them. And that’s what I’m finding: when I get out of the city-the noise and chaos, the screaming intensity- then I can see the stars. And they’re beautiful.”
My self-imposed standards often create that feeling of noise, chaos, and screaming intensity…that stresses the ever-loving life out of me. I do it, I cause it. I perpetuate the constant drone of noise…if I could interject some space-some silence-into that noise then I could cultivate the beginning of a groove. Then I could breathe and give myself a break and actually have room to be a whole person not just one who is checking things off of her list, who has to have the approval of others, who isn’t sure she has anything valuable to say or contribute or create, who desperately wants to be artful but feels that someone else must recommend that it is true.  
My husband said it so beautifully over the weekend. “The little things are what make a life.” I love the simplicity and poignancy of this statement…he didn’t add a caveat and say that the little things are what make a life more of something. No, he just said that the little things are what make a life. Period. Too often we gloss over them in order to be productive, to get s#*$ done and we miss the bits that actually make our life. Noticing the little things is a choice, and probably requires saying “no” to something to make the necessary space. This choice can be easy or hard. Join me in answering this question: What can you say no to in order to notice those bits, or see those stars, or hear that music?

2 thoughts on “Finding the Groove

  1. Wow — deep. Need to read this every morning for awhile …. but it resounds in my soul: ‘the space in between the notes, that’s the groove …’ ‘The little things are what make a life’……. Learning to not make the minor things MAJOR! Learning to breathe in the moment. Love your thought processes, Jenni!


    1. Char, thank you for taking the time to comment. I am so glad this post resonated with you so much. I actually love all of the music metaphors peppered throughout your comment. I like that we share that in common!


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