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Finding One's Voice

I have been working on a couple of pieces that I hope to play for our fundraiser this week. I've been working on these two pieces for the past six months. That's okay. It reconfirms something that I've known for quite some time and that is if one plays through a piece about a hundred times one will probably kind of know it. We will see.

Now, the interesting discovery that I didn't make until just a few days ago was that for some reason it took me a very long time two be able to sing this song in such a way that it fit with the mood and the feeling of the song. In other words, it took me awhile before I could “find my voice”. That is not just a matter or learning to sing on key. It is the process of making the song one’s own. When one owns the song, they are free to finally hear its story.

One of the songs is just a fun song. But, even it tells a story, a simple fun and funny story. The other song however has a serious side to it. Seriousness is not always sad. It deals with the theme that sometimes triumph does come “By way of sorrow” and that it is love that leads the way. It was not until I found my voice for this song that I was able to hear its story. Once I heard its message, I understood and was able to come full circle and put its feeling into my voice.

STORIES So much of life is about stories. Stories come to us in all different forms. I can tell a story with words. I do that every Sunday. I can also tell a story with wood. I do that when I'm so inspired. Both of those art forms did not just develop overnight. It took years of training and practice until I could say that I found my voice in either storytelling or wood.

For the past couple of years, I've been learning music. I have finally gotten to the point that I feel like I'm finding my voice in song. The other night at Orchestra practice, Jim and I were in conversation about the type of wood out of which his guitar is made. Myrtle wood.

The minute he said the word “Myrtle”. I was reminded of a story from my childhood. We lived on a farm in North Central Kansas. I was still an infant. My dad was in his early thirties. I can't say that I “actually remember” this story. However, I do remember how it was told over and again and has become a part of the Bell family narrative.

It's a simple story and a short story. Dad was a young aspiring farmer, having come back from the war and like so many others; he was trying to start his life over, this time with a wife and three little kids. He was trying to scratch out a living on an 80-acre Farm. One of the ideas he came up with was to raise pigs. He had a sow by the name of Myrtle.

Picture above: That's Myrtle on the right, and of course, that's my dad on the left. As you can see from the picture Myrtle was a pretty good size Pig. In fact, I've been told that she weighed over a thousand pounds. The story was often being told us how it was that one day, Myrtle took exception with something that dad was doing. Perhaps he got between her and her babies or perhaps she just decided she didn't like him on that day in particular.

At any rate, for some reason, she turned on him. He did the only sensible thing to do when one is chased by a half-ton-angry-sow. He turned and ran. The problem being however, there was a patch of very large Kansas sunflowers growing in the immediate vicinity. As dad turned to run away from Myrtle, he ended up climbing into this patch of sunflowers. This is where the story gets perhaps a little bit apocryphal; because to hear him tell it, he ended up straddling a very large sunflower and was literally suspended in midair. His feet did not touch the ground. He was trying to run and could not get away. Nor could he get any further. So, he was just suspended in there by this exceptionally large sunflower. His embarrassment was then further compounded by the fact that he swears he could hear Myrtle “laughing at him as she turned around and walked away”.

I have no doubt in my mind that this story is true. Perhaps someday I will write a song about it if I can find my voice.

Gary, President

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