“Light-enchanted sunflower, thou Who gazest ever true and tender On the sun’s revolving splendour.”– Pedro Calderon de la Barca
The whole process of putting together music collections has always been one of my favorite recreational activities, way long before LAUREL came to life. I love finding meaning in the sound and in the poetry that music gifts us with. It’s a true treasure hunt for me. And oh, the treasures I sometimes find, even in long time known songs.
Before I dive into the significance of this month’s theme and the reason why I’ve chosen it, I’d like to tap into a little contextual talk, so you get more familiar with the inner process that usually goes behind it. I hope you make a little room for this personal story I’m about to share.
The seed of a soundlustful* collection
Finding themes for the LAUREL Monthly Soundlust collections can be a little challenging – in the best of ways -, because there is so much good music out there, with a plethora of moods and feels, kinda hard to choose from.
Sometimes, inspiration comes right away just by opening my eyes towards the sky, sometimes I need to dig deep into the sweet spots of my creative ocean until I find a potential seed I could grow further. Other times, I get obsessed with one song and I commit my mind to making it fit in the “next playlist”, and everything that follows afterwards begins with that song in mind.
As I’ve said before, music is a really intimate experience, so I can only hope that my selections spark at least a drop of inspiration into your hearts, one that translates into your own soul language.
The girl in the mirror
The quest for this month’s theme has not been short of scavenger hunt sessions, looking all over the place for “the great idea”. That’s because lately I haven’t been in the best place emotionally, so I was stuck between contradictory states of mind, not being sure what to focus my attention on, having millions of tiny different ideas and a full palette of emotions to choose from.
However, I had one song I’ve obsessed over for days on end, right after I’ve gone through some anxiety and plain shitty ass days. As the world seemed to be slipping away from any notion of normalcy I’ve known, I absorbed a troublesome kind of energy – What am I doing? How can I change this ugly reality? When will I get my life back? How can I help? Why can’t I write anything? What’s going on with me? Why do I feel so stuck in my mind? How can I get back into the light? And so on.
“I put my sweaty palms around my wet and widely smiling face and I realized that was the emotional release and encounter with self I’d been waiting for all along.”
Until one day, when I randomly stumbled upon this song I’ve known for some time and I started humming it at my desk, feeling it more and more, as the minutes went by.
I replayed it a couple of times, until I found myself crying and laughing and singing in front of the mirror, really, really looking into my weary eyes, cross-holding my shoulders in a tight embrace, dancing left and right, loudly thinking “Oh, hey girl, there you are. There you are! I’ve missed you. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”. I put my sweaty palms around my wet and widely smiling face and I realized that was the emotional release and encounter with self I’d been waiting for all along.
The making and unfolding of Sunflower
In this LAUREL’s music collection, I wanted to portray that feeling I had found in the mirror that day, when I stepped back into the light. As I was exploring different ideas for this month’s playlist, I finally got to think about the story of the sunflower.
A symbol of the late summer landscape, of sunshine and positivity, of strength and hopefulness, of love and friendship, the sunflower is always seeking the light of the sun, facing it with complete adoration until the sun sets behind the hills, making room for the moon to rise. The night is the sunflower’s time to rest its crown, patiently sitting still through the darkness and the silence of the moonlight, only to open itself back again at the crack of dawn.
Just like the constant and continuous switch between the sun and the moon, there are times when our energy and force of inspiration need a calmer space to recharge. A space in the shadows, where there is only room for introspection and living with our best and our worst. Acknowledge our strengths, but also our fears and doubts.
The songs of the Sunflower
More than in the last two music collections, in this one I looked for songs with a strong lyrical expression, each of them contributing to the powerful symbolism of the sunflower and the whole spectrum of meanings it presents.
“We’re both the moon and the sun, both darkness and light, both calmness and energy.”
With this in mind, I’ve been really inspired by the songwriting mastery and realistic display of the world of Eddie Vedder and the eeriness of Florence Welsh’s voice in touching the soft spots of our souls with incredibly poetic lyrics; the camaraderie and togetherness reflected by the folkish tunes of The Head and The Heart, Jesse Taylor or Wild Rivers; the amazing odes to the human spirit, in its effort to heal from the inside out, played by some of the world’s greatest artists, like Michael Jackson, Beyonce or Coldplay.
Of course, reminding myself of that image in the mirror, I knew I had to include The Waterboys’ “The Whole of the Moon” in this next playlist. The more I listened to it, the more it spoke to me about all the great things that are out there to do, to discover, to learn. Like Mike Scott, the lead singer of the band, would talk about in an interview with Songfacts on the “you” the poet’s referring to in the song: “It’s not a specific person. It’s more a type. The point of the song was to illustrate how much more there could be to learn than we had ever guessed. And so, I used that format of songwriting, as if addressing a more knowledgeable or wise being.”
It’s actually pretty interesting how the moon and the sun have both found its way into the same story, isn’t it? Just like we’re both the moon and the sun, both darkness and light, both calmness and energy, swaying from one to another in a rhythm that we only learn to lead more and more consciously as we advance in our inner journey, but also into the world around us.
If we explore further the language of the sunflower and its connection to the human spirit, we would learn to embrace the cycle of life as it comes, keeping our hearts open to the things that fill them up with light and love, and cherishing them.
Cherish our loved ones.
Our reflection in the mirror.
Our inner child.
Build our path in this life.
Understand and act upon our role in this world.
Stand strong for ourselves and for others.
Accept our vulnerable sides and put down our crown when we must renew our spirit.
Live in the light and learn in the shadow.
To find forgiveness and acceptance in this ever changing scenario we’re facing now, where nothing can be taken for granted.
To look for that child in us that needs to be loved and have some kind of assurance that things will eventually get better.
“I wanted to get it right so badly that I always got it wrong
So you keep pushing on
You hope it won’t be long
Till you could find the child you were
And find a way to get along
Don’t go blindly into the dark
In every one of us shines the light of love” – Light of Love, Florence and the Machines
To know that, as long as we live in the moment with trust, hope and intention, we might wake up to a new and brighter light.
Some cultural sources say that the Sun is the epitome of the Truth, of the Light that resides in each of us. So it rises up everyday and reminds us to live in our truth and light, to face it with the love and adoration the Sunflower greets her Sun every summer day.
The Sunflower’s spirit goes even further to reflect the kind of comfort, openness and warmth we find in our friendships, the cheerfulness and abundant light within our strongest bonds with the people we love.
“Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower also. He attracts and follows.”– Jean Paul
Last, but not least, this one’s about hope. Hope for a brighter tomorrow, hope to be worthy of a better world, where we can hold and cherish each other, a world where fear would make room for love to govern.
Sunflower explores the battles of our creative spirit in times of uncertainty, the courage to live within our strengths and fears and doubts, the love we are blessed with – in our family, in our friendships, in our romantic stories, in ourselves -, the place we hold in this world, the wish for a better tomorrow.
Sunflower is about stepping into the light, with all that we are and with all of our heart’s desire.
“In the end / We will only just remember how it feels” (Little Wonders – Rob Thomas)
I hope you enjoy listening to Sunflower, the August edition of LAUREL Monthly Soundlust. If it speaks to you, if there’s a moment when you had to step back into the light, I’d love to hear your story.