The Ever Restless Soul

5 Min read

1 Book rec on creativity

1 Song and artist rec

Mother and daughter / parent and child

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This is for my friends K— and M— and for you, dear reader, but I suppose it’s for myself more than anything. For the love of my children, I have been and I have done more than I am. As if I am not enough. And, that’s the thing. I am. I am enough.

And along the way I realized that if I could raise my children without passing on my baggage, my issues, my problems, they’d be OK. That if I could raise them with the things I respect and admire, they’d be OK. And, I’m not sure that’s possible. They see you, all of you, better than you see yourself.

As for trying to make them into something like you would a lump of clay or to fill them with something like you would an empty vessel, that did not work. What works is being me and it’s taken this long for me to get that. They’ve left home now, flown the nest; they’re becoming who they are. My youngest wrote me a letter from the plane and mentioned songs she was listening to. She liked this line.

I long to belong, but I always have to go.

Ribbon by Billie Marten

Then my daughter wrote, just after that line, the ever restless soul and persistent desire, to travel, explore and learn. She learned that from her parents. From me.

She describes me to a T. The longing to belong, the need to go, the restless soul. I didn’t sleep well last night, tossing and turning, thinking about typical worries. Aging mother, work, family.

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I am reading about Creativity–with a capital C–and Rick Rubin’s Connected Detachment (Possibility)*, that it’s important you consider detaching from your life as it’s happening, to recognize that there’s always a next scene in spite of the protagonist’s insurmountable odds. Don’t assume the experience you’re having is the whole story. Realize that the hard times were the required setup to allow these new possibilities to come into being. If you imagine your life as playing out on film, as a long sweep of narrative, then you can zoom in and obsess or zoom out and observe. You get to choose. It’s a bit meta and that’s good, since it’s easy to get swept up in the details.

The restless part, for me, that’s the living. That’s the driver. My daughter caught on to that and recognizes it in herself. And it’s a restlessness that spurs my curiosity. To see what’s around the corner. On my run this morning, I thought about mountains. How we walked and hiked with my children. First we did golf courses and parks; later we did hilltops and wooded trails; then we did peak-bagging in the Adirondacks. Through draws, ravines, treeline and summits. Summits. When you get there you take in the view, stop to have lunch and chocolate, or gummies.

From the peak we always had to go down. I listened to Billie Marten songs this morning. As soon as you’ve seen it, it’s gone. And the restless soul is in search of it, this IT, the peak, the view, this mystery, this calm. If I’m taking stock of my own life’s narrative by the decade, I’d say this. My twenties I thought I knew things. My thirties terrified me with what I could see ahead and what little I actually knew. My forties was a balancing act with children and parents, and confusion about beauty. My fifties is about discovery that beauty is not the same as appearances; it is deeper than external. Beauty is about truth.

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For my friends who worry about their children, I am right there with you. Our worry becomes a burden to them and what may help them most is being you; finding your own way will lighten their load.

The most precious thing I can pass on to my children is truth. About me, about life. And that, for me, is this restlessness, a persistent and at times burning desire–not for pleasures though I like pleasure–but for meaning and for truth.

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And as soon as you’ve seen it, it’s gone

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Secrets of the city
Make an aching in my heart
And the mysteries that tease me so
I long to belong, but I always have to go

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Home ties me up with discontent
Since the day I first went
Yearning to be back again
How will I return and when?

Excerpt from Ribbon by Billie Marten. Full lyrics below.

To listen to Billie Marten’s video (at 15 years old) please visit my site or click here, Ribbon on YouTube

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FOOTNOTES

*The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin. The chapter on Connected Detachment is on page 225. This is a collection of 78 Areas of Thought about the creative life from the legendary song producer. Has 12500 ratings on Goodreads which vary widely. I read it in spurts as bits of creative inspiration and found it on the mark. It is not a craft or style guide on art. It is a bit precious to me at the moment, with its cloth hardback and circle-with-dot cover. There’s a wait list at the library for it and I missed my first hold pickup and then had to go onto hold again. I imagine my time is close to up and I will have to turn it in for others on the waitlist but it is hard to read fast, a kind of devotional or spiritual when thoughts need time to sink in and percolate. I may have to buy a copy but my libraries are weighty enough and grow heavy by the day and by the purchase. Must I have it near me? accessible as I have other similar guides? I don’t know yet.

*Ribbon song by Billie Marten

Ribbon of the river by my side
I walk the shores and watch it unwind
The railway tracks will leave a glimpse of the light
From the train, trailing sparks of gold behind

And as soon as you’ve seen it, it’s gone
And as soon as you’ve seen it, it’s gone

Secrets of the city
Make an aching in my heart
And the mysteries that tease me so
I long to belong, but I always have to go

People stare and wonder why I stray
They don’t understand that wandering’s my way
I’ll never stop, though time is slipping away
The elusive light, shining strange on my face

And as soon as you’ve seen it, it’s gone
And as soon as you’ve seen it, it’s gone

Secrets of the city
Make an aching in my heart
And the mysteries that tease me so
I long to belong, but I always have to go

Home ties me up with discontent
Since the day I first went
Yearning to be back again
How will I return and when?

Secrets of the city
Make an aching in my heart
And the mysteries that tease me so
I long to belong, but I always have to go

Sep 10, 2023

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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