Yesterday I was returning from yoga, listening to the Nashville Cats CD I got from the exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. There are a lot of great songs on this CD, but the one that stood out to me in a new, and almost strange way, was Johnny Hartford singing “Gentle on My Mind.”
I always enjoyed Hartford when he’d make his television appearances in the 1960’s, especially on the Glen Campbell show. Hartford was an excellent musician, especially on the banjo, and had a easy and carefree nature. Campbell had a hit with Hartford’s song, one that tells an intricate story of freedom and memory and letting things be just as they are.
As I drove along yesterday listening to the lyrics:
I still might run in silence, tears of joy might stain my face
and the summer sun might burn me ’til I’m blind
but not to where I cannot see
you walking on the backroads
by the rivers flowing gentle on my mind.
I had this thought — the “person” who is gentle on my mind is the person I was before. Let me be clear — I am not exactly a different person now. But there have been some significant changes inside of me this summer as I embraced myself fully as an artist, leaving my teacher self behind for quite a few weeks. It has helped me find something important, and now all those roles I played before don’t seem like something I need to hold on to anymore.
This does not mean I don’t want to embrace my teacher self. In fact, it was re-embracing my teacher self that has made the turn. But the other fact is that I am entering a new decade, and yes, it has a say here.
When I turned 30, I found decisions were easier to make. Everything that seemed like it could wait didn’t need to wait any more.
When I turned 40, I celebrated. I was ready for what turned out to be the turning point of my life.
When I turned 50, well, I barely noticed. What I noticed once in my 50’s that life seemed a little easier…sometimes.
Now I’m turning 60, and all those phases are just gentle on my mind. I used to hold on to them, think about them, pull from them what I could. Somehow, that has changed. I wish I could explain this better.
What I have noticed in the last week is that some parts of me have returned — parts I felt may be gone forever. The part of me that loves cooking. The part of me that loves teaching. The part of me that can just be authentic and let it all be. It’s like somehow it has pulled in and taken up residence, whereas before it would just come and go, sleeping on the couch and disappearing, much like Hartford in his song.
It’s the best feeling ever. And to say it is gentle on my mind is the absolute perfect way to describe it. I am grateful for this song right now. It has its own meaning for me that I have probably not even explained very well. I just needed the blogosphere to know that 60 has a really cool meaning. Something shifts. The best way I can describe it is that I’ve spiraled up somehow. Life doesn’t move in circles as much as spirals.
And it is a gentle shift upwards that brings a calm acceptance and understanding and freedom; the most satisfying feeling ever.