Give It a Rest

The Pause That More Than Refreshes

I wish I could make jewelry.  I’d create this really cool necklace, and when people asked what the design was I would look at them with a mixture of surprise and pity, and say, "Well obviously you don’t read music, or you’d know what it was.”  What I wouldn’t tell them is that a year ago I wouldn’t have had a clue what the design was either.

See the thing is I recently joined a little singing group called The Royal Palm Singers, and while I’m having an absolute ball with it (and who wouldn’t?  I mean, ten middle-aged women getting together every week to practice songs in four-part harmony?  We’ve even performed a few "gigs”, complete with a bit of choreography!  For a closet ham like me, it just doesn’t get any better than that!) I’m also very humbled by how little I really know about music itself. 

Oh sure, I took piano lessons way back when I was in grade school, but it just didn’t "stick”.  For starters, I was kind of scared of my teacher.  Plus, I was completely intimidated by the part of my class where we had to do "theory.”  Just hearing that word made me break out in a cold sweat (I had the same reaction to Algebra!)  But the main reason it never worked was because I have a pretty keen ear for music, so whenever my piano teacher played a new piece for me, I would just work at those keys until they sounded exactly the way she had played them.  I never even glanced at the sheet music in front of me.  Mrs. Matthews could have substituted Braille, or Chinese characters, or Rorschach ink blots on the page and I’d never have known the difference.

But that was then.  This is now.  And even though I still tend to memorize my part just by standing next to Claudia and listening to her beautiful rich alto voice, I’m determined to learn to read that music too, even if it takes forever – which it seems to be doing.

What all of that has to do with the necklace is this:  In studying music over the past few months, I now know that in addition to all those notes on the scale, there’s also a whole host of symbols that tell you how fast, or how loud, or how long to sing those notes, and one of those symbols is called a "rest”.  (For those of you who read music, bear with me.  I really am going somewhere with all of this, I promise.)  Whenever you see that little rest mark, you’re supposed to pause for a short break before you hit your next note.  During that rest, you don’t sing.  You don’t play.  You don’t hum.  You don’t whistle.  You don’t kazoo.  You don’t do anything.  You just rest.

So here’s what I’m thinking.  If I were a jeweler I’d design a necklace that was nothing but a simple gold "rest” note on a lovely delicate chain.  I’d wear it every day and each time I looked at it, regardless of what I happened to be doing, whether it be pushing a grocery cart at Wal-Mart, or folding a load of laundry, or frantically trying to finish an article, or rushing to a meeting – whatever; I would pause for just a few seconds.  And in those few seconds I would relax my shoulders, take several slow, deep, cleansing breaths, completely clear my thoughts, and do absolutely nothing.  In other words, I would rest.

I remember years ago when my children were small, they could go full-throttle for hours on end, and would, if I let them.  But I knew what would happen once they got too tired, so as a Mom I had to physically step in and make them stop and rest for a little while – or else we were all going to pay the consequences.  I was a real champion at recognizing when my children needed a break, and doing something about it.   Unfortunately, I can’t seem to do the same for myself.

What I need is a visible cue – you know, just some little something to remind me when my gas gauge is perilously close to reaching Empty and it’s time to pause.  That’s why I think my necklace idea is so brilliant. 

Now all I have to do is learn how to make it.  Once I do that – the rest, as they say, is easy.

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