When my youngest was much younger, I accompanied her to voice and piano lessons with my chanteuse friend Carri, whose home studio overlooks a bay that hosts riotously blooming wildflowers and a flurry of musical birds.
My pint-sized daughter would choose her own super-sized songs and deliver them a capella.
Sometimes, after my daughter ran through them, Carri would look at her intently, as if wondering how and why she chose them.
Once my little girl sang Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.” As usual, she sang with feeling far beyond her years. We grown-ups were mesmerized.
I waited till I saw the sun
I don’t know why I didn’t come . . . .
When I saw the break of day
I wished that I could fly away
‘Stead of kneeling in the sand
Catching teardrops in my hand
After she had sung the song a few times, my daughter took a break and snapped back into her little girl persona. She twirled around on a stool, tore open a bag of miniature cookies (to the immense interest of Carri’s ancient dog, Sam, who always insisted on sitting in the studio for my daughter’s lessons). She tossed a couple of sandwich cookies into her mouth and sipped some water.
Carri tilted her head and looked intently at my daughter. She asked her, “What’s that song about?”
My nine-year-old daughter looked up and said, simply, with complete clarity and understanding, “Regret.”
Which brings me to today’s writing challenge, in which I have a maximum of fifteen minutes (being counted down on my pink piggy timer, because the robot timer is occupied) to spin a tale based on the third line of the last song I heard–Hold on to What You Believe.
I, I can’t promise you
That I won’t let you down
And I, I can’t promise you
That I will be the only one around when your hope falls down . . . .
I ran away
I could not take the burden of both me and you
It was too fast
Casting love on me as if it were a spell I could not break
When it was a promise I could not make
What if I was wrong?
This song, too, fundamentally is about regret. But where Norah Jones’ expressions of regret seemed steeped and settled in the unrecoverable past, I heard hope here. In the persistent second-guessing refrain–What if I was wrong?–is a willingness to rethink, to recover, and, by holding fast to what counts, to overcome darkness and the conditioned fear of loss.
. . . .So hold onto what you believed
In the light
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