I’d like to tell you a story about that, actually. How my piano came to be my ultimate happy place (and healing tool, you might say.)
It’s in my soul, I think. Music. It’s the place I go to escape the world when it gets too noisy, and it’s absolutely the place I go when I need to re-make sense of the world around me.
I suppose you might say I had quite an explosive childhood— and when I say explosive, of course I’m being a bit dramatic (lol). All I mean by ‘explosive’ is that I was a highly sensitive child, and although the world was all sorts of fun and wonderful, my sensitivity sometimes got to me. When the teacher shouted at the kid in the next seat: it wasn’t the kid that felt the brunt of that rage. It was me. I felt it all.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I needed an outlet, a way to remove the yuck of a world that somehow seemed so much bigger than me. I needed a night light. A safety blanket to catch the waves of emotion, especially the ones that didn’t belong to me.
I still remember asking Mum: ‘Please. Can I have piano lessons?’ to which the reply always came, ‘Brooke. We don’t have a piano.’ Of course, I knew that. But my heart felt like it was being called to. It felt like I just needed to play. I don’t really have the words to explain the pull of such a deep need, but it was there and it never went away until that one special day. My fourteenth birthday, I think. The day I got my first keyboard.
Well. I was beside myself. Here I was, surrounded by lashings of colourful paper, staring at the one thing I intuitively knew I needed. I quickly taught myself to play, which was really just me tinkering away until what I was playing became something that resembled a tune. Soon I was writing songs. When I wrote, I said all the things my heart needed to say, I just let it all go. Whatever wanted to come out. I let it be.
And it felt good. It felt like a wooshing tunnel of wind rushing through me, taking with it all the angry, the sad, the tension. When I played— when I wrote— a new part of me came to life. The right part of me.
The true part of me.
It’s not surprising to me, when I look back, that most of my songs were written when I was in my teenage years, a time of hormones and boys and tears. (Oh, gosh. All the tears.) Those years were a time of absolute truth. A time of boundless dreams, but also a time where the world really could have ended if I happened to be ‘spoken’ to by a teacher that really didn’t know that I was a crier.
When those things made my world explode: I escaped. Into my music, into the wave of beautiful that sang into my bones. And that’s just all sorts of magic to me. That still is all sorts of magic.
My first love. My piano.
Okay. 🙂 Well, that’s enough sop for day two, I suppose. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, her sleeping babes warmed her heart from their beds.
What joy might tomorrow bring for them, she wondered, remembering the magic of being a child on Christmas eve.
She remembered lying in bed, listening to the lullaby of her heart, hoping and wishing to meet the morning sooner.
She remembered such lovely things—
and she smiled.
Because on the twelfth day of Christmas, the girl became a woman in love with the dream all over again.
But this time the dream was for her sleeping babes.
Sleep tight, my little ones.
Sweet dreams, until the morning finds you.
Ps. Thank you so much for coming on this heart-filled journey with me, these past twelve days. Merry days to you all, my lovely friends. Here’s hoping the magic of the season finds you and chases you well into the new year.
It’s the second day of Christmas and here I am writing to you!
Surprise! I know. It’s been FOREVER. I’ll try not to leave it so long next time.
I wonder if you’ll even get this little email of mine. Do you have a computer in the North Pole? Do you even know what a computer is? Oh. Ha ha ha. Of COURSE you do, Santa— I’ll bet you’ve given a million of them away, in your time. Maybe even a billion. Well! However many you’ve given, I’m sure they’ve helped to change the world in some wonderful way.
I mean, I don’t really know…
Umm. Santa? I truly am sorry I haven’t written for so long. The thing is, somewhere along the line someone told me you weren’t real—which is completely ridiculous, I know, especially considering I can feel you right here in my heart.
I’ll never let you go Santa.
Nope. Not ever. And do you know why?
Because I believe in magic. I believe in the magic of you.
That’s okay, isn’t it? For a big kid like me to believe in you always and forever and always, again?
Because, Santa, you’ve gotta know this: the magic of you lit the fire inside me. The magic of you helped to build me—helped fill me with all the bits of happy—and I am just not cool with letting you slip away quite so easily.
Big kids are allowed to believe, aren’t we, Santa?
I really hope you write back.
I really hope you write back and say, ‘Yes, Brooke, it’s okay for big kids to believe, too.’ Because I think my joy butterflies need you to keep them alive, Santa, I really and truly do. After all, joy butterflies eat magic for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. Without you…my joy butterflies might starve!
I really have waffled on.
I just wanted you to know this, Santa, I haven’t forgotten you. You’re still here, always in my heart.
We are like two dots on a musical theatre map of the world. And every time I fall into a moment where it’s just him and me, and all the musical love hearts…I just can’t help but feel changed.
Allow me to explain.
For so many of my girl hours, I lay like a starfish on my Nan and Pop’s shagpile carpet, blissing out under giant headphones that came to feel more like home to me than the daggy relic they really were. Even after twenty or so years, I can feel the softness of the black leather on my ears (and isn’t that so completely amazing?)
Anyway. The girl. The music. I listened to whatever C.D I could find behind the glass doors of that triple decker sound system. It was like I’d come to crave music, as though every day it called to me, promised me that sunshiny feeling that only music can bring. And of course, I said: Yes. Let’s do this.
Every time I laid myself down in front of that sound system it seemed like the universe was whispering to me, like it was answering all the questions my young girl heart had not yet thought to ask of it. And actually, when music was happening to me there was no need to ask anything. In fact, there was no need to even think.
So, I didn’t think. I just listened and I felt.
One album in particular stirred up my inner butterflies, scattering them off to every corner of the room and back again, without fail. That album was: The original 1985 London Cast recording of Les Miserable. To this day, that album—and that show— takes my breath away.
And now we return to the reason for this post. The man. The voice. The moment that speeds up my butterflies and connects me to another human in a way that is so profound it has me shaking my head in wonderment whenever I think of it.
Because the thing is, this. There is a voice on that album—the voice of a man, who has such a minor part in the show I don’t even know how I found him. I don’t know his name, he doesn’t know mine. I don’t know his smile, he doesn’t know mine. All I know is that for two bars of the song ‘Red and Black’, a man sings. And I close my eyes. And I hold my breath.
I mean, it’s really quite amazing, don’t you think? There is a man out there—a singer and actor, whose identity remains a mystery to me—who will never know that there is a girl in this world who melts inside everysingle time she hears his voice.
Isn’t-that-epic? Isn’t that the stuff that makes hairs stand on end?
Life, huh. It really is all about the human connection.