Learning to Stand


Colorado SkyThe first thing she learned as a three year old violinist was how to bow. From that first gesture all things commence.

For most of yesterday, I holed up in the Stone Cup coffee house excepting a break to go back to camp and eat lunch with Mazie and listen to her sing a song she had written that morning about her song writing partner. In turn, her partner was supposed to write a song based on stories Mazie had told her. I asked her what she had talked about and Mazie wouldn’t tell because she “didn’t like me and didn’t want to share her stories.” Which is what, I think, this time is all about. After sharing lunch, she lamented that she wanted to connect with some other people, but didn’t quite know how to do it. I listened and made some feeble suggestions and then she was off, making as many tracks away from me as she could.

There’s the doing. And then there’s the allowing. The doing is the driving and periodic suggesting and the working and the paying for. And the allowing is the stepping back and letting her discover the person she is meant to be. Both, in their own ways, will go unrecognized. This morning after walking away, i caught sight of her writing in her songbook in the tent. And all yesterday and this morning she recognized people from Telluride and parts known and unknown. And I realized that our daughter was finally stepping out on her own.

We need to help her stand independently. But the sentiment immediately collapses in on itself. How do you help someone be independent?   We have to not help.  Instead we need to walk away.

So for the week, I’m her on call mule. If she needs an assist, I’m there for her.  But she knows what she needs to do.  And where she needs to go.  And it’s time to go.  And it will mostly be without either of her parents.  And, by definition, the very best parts of it neither of us will be there to witness.

Late on our first evening, she asked me what I wanted to do. After the long drive,  all I wanted was to pop some benadryl and go off to bed.  I told her as much.  But if there’s something else you want to do, I said, I’ll do it.  Well maybe I’ll just go to bed, she whispered. But then she hesitated, turned, walked over to a circle of musicians and pulled up a chair.  I followed. They asked if she wanted to play and she took the guitar and played a Patti Griffith song. She then left and returned with her violin.

A fellow asked if she could accompany him on a song . What would she like? he asked.

Something slow, she said.

And what key?

It doesn’t matter, she said. The fellow started to play, and within half a bar Mazie had  raised the violin to her chin. And then she fell in and let her instrument sing in a sweet and aching way. He sang and turned to her and the violin carried on, bearing the song in new directions and then back around so that he could carry it again. And like that they travelled for quite a while.  Folks sat, intrigued it seemed, and strangely moved.

How long have you been playing with your dad, another musician asked as they finished.

He’s not my dad, Mazie announced. I’ve never seen this girl before in my life, the song writer said.

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