Simon & Garfunkel famously sang about old friends, sitting on their park bench like bookends. And that’s exactly what my old friends and I did last night. After a hard day of working at my building, my friends and I built a bonfire in the woods, roasted dinner on sticks, drank Manhattans, and sat on our park bench like bookends. My husband kept the fire stoked. My baby sat on my lap.
Life is beyond good.
My friend Sara asked me how songwriting was going. And I was really amazed by my own response.
Songwriting is beyond good. I’ll be damned.
Reader, I’m about to debunk the fallacy that artists do their best work when they’re hurting. True, millions of great songs have been penned from a place of a struggle. Come to think of it, I would say that 11 of my 13 albums have been written when I’ve been heartbroken. So expressing pain through song has quite literally saved my life and provided me with a music career.
Truthfully, I was once worried how getting married and settling down would affect my songwriting. Volatility had become such a norm for me. Intense heartache built up in me like magma. I was an active volcano when I sat down at the piano to write. My fingers would hit the keys, and I’d erupt.
So what now?
Everything. Everything now.
These days, art does not happen as a result of an emotion. Emotions happen as a result of the making art. For once, I’m creating from the driver’s seat. Unencumbered by the compulsion to explode, I can write for writing’s sake. Which makes subject matter for songs completely limitless. This month, I’ve written songs about sunsets, forests, hometown pride, and the old bricks in my building. These tunes are some of my best work to date, and I didn’t have to feel upset to create them.
It’s hard to let go of stress, especially stress that is hardwired. We wonder what we’ll feel without it, or if we’ll feel at all. But I’m pleased to announce that—at least for me—letting go of heartache has been the wisest decision of my life. It takes a surprising amount of strength to leave the storm and venture into calmer waters, to thrive in an easy environment.
An environment like sitting with old friends on a park bench.
And with that, I’m off to give my baby a bath. I hope you have a wonderful week, Reader. See you next Sunday. -Em