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The Light

One of my most favorite songs is “The Light” by Disturbed. Disturbed is a heavy metal band, and, from the name, you wouldn’t think that they could produce a beautiful, uplifting song like “The Light.” You would expect songs like, “Down with the Sickness” and “Another Way to Die,” two songs with shredding guitars and screaming lyrics. I like listening to those two songs when I’m mad or need some energy, but when I’m sad, I listen to “The Light.”

I first discovered this song last summer. Twice a week, I would drive to Littleton to teach my summer classes at Arapahoe Community College. I remember one day, I fell into a pit of despair. Even though the sun was shining, I felt the day grow dark. My husband was out of work and I was trying to support us on an adjunct professor’s salary. I didn’t know how we were going to make it through the summer, let alone the month. I remember the anxiety that was flooding my body as my eyes began to well with tears. Then, “The Light” began to play on my Ipod.

Like an unsung melody

The truth is waiting there for you to find it

It’s not a blight, but a remedy

A clear reminder of how it began

Disturbed

Listening to the David Draiman’s rich and powerful voice, I felt the weight that had settled on me begin to lift. The song reminded me that, even though times were dark right now, I would see light again.

When you think all is forsaken

Listen to me now (all is not forsaken)

You need never feel broken again

Sometimes darkness can show you the light

Disturbed

Many times that summer, I would fast forward though the songs on my Ipod to find “The Light.” I would listen to it over and over to remind myself that, without the darkness, I wouldn’t know the light. Later that summer, my husband found a job and our situation improved. Now, in these current dark times, I often return to this song. I have listened to it so many times I can cue it up in my mind and listen to it without my Ipod. It reminds me to fight through the darkness and strive for the light.

Angst of a writer

My violin


I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

Gustave Flaubert

 From the moment I picked up my first violin, I found it easy to make the instrument do what I wanted. My ear was true, and I could easily hear when my fingering was off and adjust accordingly. I was often dissatisfied with the sound I produced, because I played a beat-up loaner from the school. No matter how well I placed my fingers, the notes I produced were harsh and discordant. That changed when my mother’s foster-uncle loaned me his violin to play. It was a beautiful instrument with mother of pearl inlaid on the back. Its tone was old and mellow and it followed my commands obediently. I soon learned, however, that even my uncle’s beautiful violin was inferior to other instruments. I did not know that until my mom purchased my own violin from a concert violinist. My new violin was a 3/4 instead of a standard violin. Suddenly, everything felt right. I could hit the notes I intended and my violin had a light, delicate tone.

I started writing my own stories the same year I started playing the violin–the third grade. While writing was my passion, it didn’t come as naturally to me as playing the violin. While my violin produced the sounds I intended instantly, my pencil stuttered disobediently across the page. I just couldn’t seem to make the images that danced in my head come to life on the page. My brain felt as wooden as my violin, but did not sing as sweetly. Still, I persisted. After nine years, I gave up the violin. I never played it for enjoyment, but for the fulfillment of my mother’s frustrated childhood dreams. I, however, continued to write. Over the years, I started many projects, but left them unfinished. I grew frustrated with my uncooperative pencil, and let my writing routine lapse.

This fall, I realized that, unless I committed to putting that uncooperative pencil to paper every day, I would never be the writer I wanted to be. I committed to the NaNoWriMo challenge and completed my first novel. Every day, I berated my wooden brain and lackluster pencil for their lack of creativity, but I continued plodding to the end of my novel.

I realized that writing, unlike a violin performance, can be revised. Once I finished a violin solo, it was gone forever–the notes played and heard. I would never have the chance to repeat the performance and improve it. With writing, however, I can continue to work on a piece of writing that dissatisfies me until the words produce the melody that pleases me. I can let go the frustration I feel when I am drafting, because eventually I can make my writing sing. I will never be one of those writers who produces a perfect piece of writing on the first try, but I will eventually produce a masterpiece with dogged persistence and many revisions.