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.
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