My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.

Bow Out Gracefully


September 17, 2014

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Dear Readers,

I think both the title to today’s post and the above quote from T. S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men”, may be terribly misleading.  I never bow out gracefully and nothing, and I do mean nothing in my life has ever ended with a whimper.  I think I’m beginning to turn a corner, however.  And I have today’s Writing 101 assignment to thank for opening up my eyes to that possibility.

My assignment today is to write about the three most important songs in my life and what they mean to me.  The first song that comes to mind is “Neon Moon” by Brooks and Dunn.  This contemporary country song is an “I’ve lost my love, I’ll cry in my beer at the nearest bar,” kind of song.  I know, I know, dear Readers, you thought me more sophisticated than that.  Well, it just so happens that I love country music.

Okay, so the words are hardly that deep:  If you lose your one and only, There’s always room here for the lonely.  Watch your broken dreams dance in and out of a beam of a neon moon.  However, at the time when I first heard this song, I was in the midst of a tumultuous divorce, ending an even more tumultuous marriage (never one to bow out gracefully) and the music has since stuck around.

The next song I choose is “Sabor a Mi.”  This classic Mexican ballad has been recorded by more artists than I can remember, including my own father.  However, I cherish the version sung by Los Lobos.  I have loved this song for even longer than “Neon Moon.”  This love stems from, yes, once again, the way the music touches my soul and the memories it evokes.

My dad taught me how to dance.  In fact, our dancing together, along with a love of reading, were the two things that strongly bonded father and daughter.  My dad passed away in May of 2001 after an all-too brief fight with cancer.  I was fortunate enough to have a last dance with my dad and it has remained one of my most treasured memories of the greatest man I have ever known.

I graduated from Arizona State University in December of 2000.  My dad was well into his sickness by then, but he proudly watch me walk across the stage and receive my diploma.  He even braved the gathering I had for myself, inviting well over 100 of my closest friends and relatives.  During the evening, my brother, Daniel, put on the song “Sabor a Mi,” as sung by Los Lobos, and my dad and I had what was to be our last dance together.

I remember every second of every note of every lyric that we danced.  I remember what I wore, how I felt, and what he said to me as he slowly, but deliberately led me around the dance floor, “You’re finally letting me lead.”

My third and final song is by Van Morrison.  Several years ago, I mentioned to my bother Daniel that I wanted the song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, played at my funeral.  It is the same m.o. as the above two songs.  But, I’ve since changed my mind.  Same artist, different tune.  The song I now want played at my funeral, and tonight’s final choice, is “Open the Door (To Your Heart).”

I was on my maiden voyage to the Middle East, unsure of what to expect, when the flight attendant bent down to ask me if I wanted to listen to music.  Why this particular flight attendant stopped to ask me, and only me, is beyond my comprehension.  My flight had over 500 passengers and I was sitting in the middle of a row of five seats.  I wasn’t trying to get the flight attendant’s attention and was a bit startled when she bent down and leaned over to talk to me.  She showed me how to get to the music portion of the entertainment touchscreen embedded in the back of the headrest of the seat in front of me.  She even chose the song, Van Morrison’s, “Open the Door (To Your Heart).  And just like that, she was gone as quickly as she had appeared.

That, dear Readers, was my epiphany.  That was when my half-empty glass outlook on life began to take on a different persona, and I was never more ready for anything in my entire life.

Open the door to your heart

Open the door to your soul

Get back in the flow

Open the door to your heart.

I think I like the whimper.  Peace, ~v.


8 thoughts on “Bow Out Gracefully

  1. Brooks and Dunn are by far one of my favorite musical acts.


  2. Good job, I could really feel your heart when you talked about the last dance with your Dad..touching! I am not sure I liked the bang part tho after your line about , “Your letting me lead”… it almost seemed to abrupt, I get what your saying, just don’t know if there would have been another way for a more smoother transition. I do like the airplane story and it makes me want to look up the song.


  3. My turn. The strength of your writing is evidenced by the fact that I can completely connect to all of the facets of this piece even though I only know one of the songs (though, coincidentally, another Los Lobos song is playing in the background as I type this – weird). The father/daughter dance struck me the hardest. Consider opening that one up to a story of its own. The airplane tale is curious. What would have brought her to you? I want to know more about what YOU think of that coincidence. Oh, and the bookends of the poem and lyrics was a great idea. Well done!


    • Thank you for the feedback. As for the Los Lobos song playing in the background as you write, things such as that, and the flight attendant, happen to me all of the time. I believe it is God’s way of communicating with me. My heart had been closed for years to the prospect of loving anything or anyone, save my children, when I went to teach in the Middle East. The flight attendant was God’s way of telling me to open up my heart.
      Thank you again for the read.


  4. I loved this one. This would be so hard as music has been a saving grace throughout my life. So many songs. You did a wonderful job describing each one with detail and emotion. The way music is meant to be. ❤


    • Thank you for the compliment. Although in the way most of the time, my dramatics have served my writing well. It’s as though I heave my emotional confetti right onto the page. What a rush, and oh so cathartic. ~v

      Liked by 1 person

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