Cold Tangerines

This Spring I have gone into a reading binge. Not the kind of reading binge where it’s like watching a Netflix tv show and you just go right into the next one.  No, no…this is the kind of reading binge where I have at least 3 books going at once and I’m reading them all at the same time.  It has maybe gotten a little out of hand, but I love it…don’t judge 🙂

A book that I just finished last night is titled “Cold Tangerines” by Shauna Niequist.  It is a book that celebrates the rawness and amazing wonders that each day provides if we just choose to look for it.  Shauna Neiquist is also an artist with her words.

Last night I read one of the last chapters and it struck a chord because it has to do with creativity.  This excerpt comes from a chapter titled “Needle and Thread”.  She begins the chapter talking about a special song titled, “Needle and Thread” that was playing in the delivery room right after she had her son (it was on her birthing soundtrack).  This song became her and her sons “song” as it always brought her back to that moment when she first met him.  Months later she went to the band’s concert and it was a tender moment getting to hear that song live.

She writes, “I wanted to tell the songwriter about it, about how thankful we were for his song, about how deeply his song traveled through the tenderest parts of our life, about how those words and sounds had become a part of the story of one of the most sacred events of our lives.  As I walk out to my car after the show, I almost went back to wait in line and tell him, but I knew that I would cry, not the sweet little tears, but the kind that make your nose and eyeliner run, and that I would try to hug him, which would be mortifying for both of us….And so I didn’t tell him, but if I had, this is what I would have said:  Thank you.  Thank you, and keep going.  Please keep writing songs.  Please keep believing in music.  We need the sounds and words and rhythms of hope and the haunting twist of your voice.  We are desperate for great music, and there’s so much out there, but never, ever enough.  We’re desperate for great storytellers, great painters, great dancers, great cooks, because art does something nothing else does.  Art slips past our brains straight into our bellies.  It weaves itself into our thoughts and feelings and the open spaces in our souls, and it allows us to live more and say more and feel more.  Great art says the things we wished someone would say out loud, the things we wish we could say out loud.  It matters, art does, so deeply.  It’s one of the noblest things because it can make us better, and one of the scariest things, because it comes from such a deep place inside of us.  There is nothing scarier than the first time you play and sing a song for someone, when you let someone see your painting, or show your photography.  I know that life is busy and hard, and that there’s crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut.  But don’t.  Please don’t.  Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader, because of the art you make.  Please keep demonstrating the courage it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul.  Please keep making art for people like me, who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.”

This chapter completely resonated with me because how many times have I been stopped in my tracks by a song that just completely hits me to my core, read words that utterly speak to me as if I had written them myself, or admired paintings that are awe-inspiring and blow me away with their detail and beauty.  Each of us are given gifts, we were created to use them.  I believe a lot of people don’t make use of their talents because they were told once “that’s awful” and lack the confidence to get back up and try again….don’t let a harsh critic, a bad teacher, or fierce competitor take that away from you.  I’m going to end this blog post with how Shauna ends her chapter…. “To all the secret writers, late night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes.  Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel.  Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed, instead of one more tv show or magazine or movie, create something, anything.






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