I’ve been obsessively listening to Maggie Rogers’s new single, “Light On,” playing it over and over like eventually it will give me some revelation or life answer. In reality, I think I just want to understand what the song is saying, and maybe get inside Rogers’s head. I want to get what she’s feeling.
In my last post, I wrote about dwelling with the quiet—turning off the music, listening to my thoughts and letting myself rest with, well, me. Learning to sit still in the silence really is about learning to live with what is. Learning to live with ourselves.
I’m wondering however, if writers, creatives and artists in general tend toward saturating themselves in one feeling, place, or thing, in order to learn its essence.
For example, “Light On.” I don’t know exactly where the song has its root—what aspect of Rogers’s life brought about these words, this tune, the feelings it evokes. Is it about her life? Or is about someone else’s? Whichever is the case, the reality is that what she produces with her voice and the combination of notes is a song which speaks to resolution, change, and also hope. This song moves me. In my mind, I have such clear images. I see a house, I see the darkness of a lawn, the shadows of trees, and a single figure inside the house, turning on a light that will shine over the porch and its floorboards, its swing on the end, the two steps which lead to the cracked sidewalk and the street fifty feet out. And there is the other person—the object. The song is directed at someone—as so many songs are, no?
In my mind, I can see these two people, and there’s a strong connection, but also distance. This, ahhhh, this is the human dilemma: the separation. The fact of distance. The longing for that distance to disappear, and the illusion that we could make it disappear forever.
Maybe I’m strange (no, I think I’m definitely strange), but I tend toward just sitting with these feelings. Maybe I’m odd to play a song on repeat, and maybe I’m only fancying that it’s in some way aiding me as an artist and helping me in my writing, but, I think it may be true! I think this saturation thing helps! Hopefully, maybe, I—we?—can figure things out by osmosis, understand them by looking more closely and studying oh-so-intensely.
Just spoke with an author who’s working on her fantasy novel and having some trouble world-building. I encouraged her to try and see the world through the eyes of her main character. “It’s tough, I know,” I told her, “but the reader will see the world you’re creating only if you can see it clearly. If YOU are living through the eyes of your character, then so will the reader.”
So, if you are a writer, ask yourself that question. Are you seeing through the eyes of your character? And then, Do you know your character?
And if you aren’t a writer. Well. Ask yourself: Am I trying to see everything through my eyes? How can I see through someone else’s?
Writer or not, my heart tells me that at the crux of all this is the all-encompassing aura of: empathy. It feels important. I want to go there.
Peace, love, keep seeing.