What’s a perimenopausal single mom supposed to do when daily intermittent insomnia strikes on holiday? This morning I dip into its 4:30 a.m. silent sea of darkness and swim like a teenage girl riding life to the next level. With ear buds in place, I feel myself soaking in a bath of ethereal vibrations pouring from the rise and fall of Snatam Kaur’s peaceful feminine melodies. It sends me back to the awkward climb through puberty.
I was fifteen when my brother and I had returned home from Sound Warehouse, and I quickly closeted myself in my yellow and orange bedroom with the new Super Trouper album. I ripped off the cellophane from the reddish yellowish, purplish pinkish cardboard cover that foreshadowed a duo of feminine sounds, synthesized within the Australian quartet that I had come to know and love as ABBA. I jumped to the shiny silver turntable that my parents had generously surprised me with, a junior-high school graduation gift. I slipped the album out into my palm and carefully placed it on the turntable spindle. Lifting the needle, I rotated the arm gently and carefully to the perfect resting place on the vinyl.
Back then I had the luxury of time to lie on my bed and absorb album covers and music, deeply into my soul. As the needle passed over the ridges of the album, I ghosted out of my solitary ordinary life of schoolwork, piano practicing, and friend shortages, to a greater, more heavenly realm. “But I won’t feel blue, like I always do, ‘cause somewhere in the crowd there’s you,” ABBA intoned to me, dreaming me to intangible connections with a special Other who was yet to exist.
My kids have never laid eyes on a turntable or experienced opening a record album. They have never lived that magical moment when you slide out the album and run your eyes across the finely printed lyrics on the record sleeve, enjoying whatever background artwork the band has selected. They’ve lost these physical aspects in their perfectly portable, compact, virtual devices. There’s no need to even leave the room to retrieve the next song. Does anyone even buy the whole “album” anymore?
This generation has lost vinyl albums and their sleeves but gained podcasts, Facebook, Pinterest and iTunes. All is not lost. There are “covers” in Facebook and more information at the fingertips than ever. Who needs printed lyrics when there are fifteen different links on Google that give lyrics with ads?
Ah, but the physical…not virtual. Is there a difference? Even teen daughter likes the smell of books, in spite of her Kindle Fire, and both daughter and son collect hardback books of their favorites, just to have them on their shelves. Is there more to it than just a collector’s pride?
In my adult life it takes unplanned sleeplessness to hear Snatam Kaur sing Ra Ma Da Sa, in the manner I heard ABBA sing so many years ago. The words, drawn out with a simple broken chord accompanying them, echo from one ear to the other, haunting my being somewhere deep inside. As the darkness transposes into dawn, my forearms, wrists, hands and fingers rise off the bed, as if gently displaced by water. Exploring, with a push and pull, they move through airy particles–Energy. Like the ocean surf both buoying and washing over me, the energy envelops my body, connecting it to its natural “cover.” Words fail… I am unified with and apart from Life, simultaneously.
It is the first I have ever felt Energy so clearly. I’ve heard about Chi so many times, in Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes, but never have I vividly been in it. It is free and lovely, a movement therapy that I would be honored to share with my nursing home occupational therapy patients as well as my kids. As the dawn turns into light burning through my window blinds, I selfishly enjoy it alone.
Is it synchronous or simply coincidental, that when I google the Snatam Kaur song Ra Ma Da Sa, the words translate to Sun, Moon, and Earth, and a “personal sense of merger and identity–the infinite, vibrating and real.”
Maybe this menopause stuff isn’t so bad.