Cartography, pt. 2: Settlements

The fact that my sister and I grew up playing music qualified us for the classification of enigma. We are the artsy, phiosophical, head-in-the-clouds children of two cut-and-dry, fundamentalist baby-boomers who haven’t bought into anything new that society has offered us since Freddy Mercury ruled as the man-queen of stadium rock (spandex rest his soul). We each took piano lessons from a very young age, started playing in the school band in elementary school and continued on through high school, picking up other instruments as they caught our attention along the way. One way in which we differed, though, is how we went about being musical. My sister adored music from the first moment she got her feet wet in it. She poured herself into it, and when she had run dry, she would drink it in to her fill and then repeat the process. I, however, would scatter my attention between music and the hundred other things I entertained myself with.

The interesting thing is that my sister and I were always the top musicians in our sections from grade school on up. We also were elected to All-Conference Choir and were selected to play in severl ensembles in our surrounding communities. Now, let me back up for a second and say that I’m not saying any of this to toot my own horn. Since high school, my musicianship has plateaued, whereas my sister went on to dominate bands and ensemebles throughout college, taught music at the high school level for a while, and is currently a professional saxophonist. I play guitar at home by myself – poorly.

This part of my life came to mind while I was thinking about settlements because I saw a unique reality in how my sister and I reacted to music. I wouldn’t call either of our approaches more pure than the other, or better in anyway – I would call them honest. In that honesty, we could each respect each other’s efforts while not feeling like we had to compete with one another. That attitude did justice both to music and to ourselves.

The idea also came to mind of my often having said that I don’t want to marry a writer. I want her to read. Because, arrogant as I am, I would appreciate my wife’s writing – were she to write – but in the back of my head I would always compare it against my own. I don’t want that for either of us. Granted, I am far more open minded (and therefore less competitive) than I have been in the past, but it is still a very harsh reality I will always deal with to some degree.

As we chart the vast wildernss that is The Everland, it is vital that we be honest with ourselves and each other in how we can most purely be creative, and respect our individual ways of expressing ourselves. To be a healthy community, we must allow ourself to critique each other in order to get the best from ourselves, but not in such a way that it places either of us in a position of being “better” or “worse” than the other.

To build on an idea I expressed in “Pioneers,” The Everland is not about promoting ourselves as creative individuals. It is about giving each other the opportunity to exist in a community that stands for the hope that can come from our being creative. May we daily challenge each other to create honesty and truth through creativity, and let us use that creativity in our scattered settlements to unite us into a community as ever-growing and changing as we ourselves are.

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