A sweet-souled young woman from half a world away was tuning her guitar in my lounge room. As I looked on, I reflected on the music and the magical synchronicity that had connected us initially in Colorado, then again in L.A. and now Australia. When we first met – in a place I wasn’t supposed to be – the feeling was instant family.
The day before I was due to fly back to the Sunshine Coast, Rachel had invited me to overnight at her place in Venice Beach so we could squeeze in an eleventh hour catch up. My short notice visit coincided with her moving through some emotional challenges. Her apologies were quickly met with a smile and encouragement to just be real and uncensored without making it wrong or concerning herself about me. Though we’d barely just met and some 25 years separated us in age, our unspoken sisterhood was as perennial as the seasons. Once she realised it was total ease for me to hold space, she surrendered to the tears.
There was a beautiful presence with her rawness and fragility, and in that vulnerable state she asked if I would like to hear a newly forming song. Anticipating what was coming, I asked if I could capture the magic with my camcorder. While it was only just beyond the front door, the ever-present, swirling craziness of L.A. may as well have been a million miles away … it was just Rachel and her guitar and me in a very still centre. As she caressed the song with her exquisite voice and the gentle plucking of sweetly resonating strings, I was as riveted as I had ever been in any number of concerts by global artists. She was ‘Crying Fireflies’ – a reflective inner journey to re-connect with her true self. I deeply felt the privilege and awe of witnessing such divine authenticity and talent.
Fast track to her travels in Oz the following year. After a few months in the desert surrounds of Alice Springs, the verdant vibe of the Sunny Coast and the cocoon of ‘Haven’ (the nurturing, peaceful oasis I call home), with the added bonus of a big sis holding space, Rachel found herself in another safe zone – this time for burning through a crisis of confidence as a solo performer.
She was in good company. It’s a head warp that so many of the world’s iconic legends of music don’t like the sound of their own voice. And while I totally get how the inner critic is generally more merciless than any outer critics, I never cease to be amazed that so many incredible artists are wracked with self-doubt, and can’t recognise in themselves the magic that is so obvious to others. When the truth gets hijacked by comparison, competition, the search for perfection and approval, it’s crazy how we unwittingly allow it all to bend our world out of shape. Just imagine how much more magic could show up if we all just took a leaf out of Taylor’s Swift’s book and allowed ourselves to ‘shake it off.’
Another head warp is how often people stay in their comfort zone, believing it takes more courage to face things and deal with them than to stay where they are … not realising that it actually requires a great deal of grit and courage to stay stuck in an unresolved reality where the discomfort never lets up. A dedicated seeker and wise beyond her young years, Rachel had come to realise that it made much more sense to walk through it and beyond it than to continue dragging it all along with her for however many more years or a lifetime. Her soul was tired of all the untruths that were cloaking her luminescence.
So there we were, creating some improvised music together, when an extraordinary moment presented itself where she had the choice to either step back, or step forward into a profound opening up. She was ready to take that walk. It was the right time, the right place. Dropping all her barriers; embracing the invitation to step more fully into who she was born to be, she discovered a newfound power, potency and freedom. She later described it as one of the most profound experiences of her life. It was as if some of the lyrics she had penned were unfolding in front of me; ‘You followed your heart here, you made a new start here.’
It was a different young woman who picked up her guitar the next day. In the stillness of Haven on a gentle summer night, while the rest of the world went about its business, magic quietly and sweetly unfolded once again. No fanfare, no headlines … just one amongst the continual stream of multitudinous unique and magical moments scattered across the globe that you won’t hear about on the news.
Even after her metamorphosis, a gap remained between what she could see and what I could see … if only she could experience herself through my eyes and ears and heart – she would be astounded. I enjoy Rachel’s songs equally as I do any of my favourite, world-class female singer/songwriters in a similar vein…Rickie Lee Jones, Janis Ian, Emiliana Torrini, Tori Amos, Norah Jones, Bic Runga. She could easily command an audience. In my mind’s eye it’s a fait accompli – a darkened stage with a pillar of light pouring over this sublime, radiant storyteller and her guitar, captivating many thousands of adoring fans with her song, ‘All I See is You.’
Once again I was the only witness … a concert for one.
… at least in that moment. With exquisiteness guaranteed, once again I had my camcorder at the ready so I could share it. What proves it’s a keeper beyond the obvious (and in spite of the less than optimal sound quality) is that whenever I revisit it and follow Rachel into the depths of the song again, the tears flow.
Fast track to 2017 and she’s in a happy place, living in Peru with her beau and embracing the magic and magnificence she came here to be. I’m so delighted that she can see so much more now of what I saw from the outset. While I’m glad I was able to contribute in a small way, the kudos is with her for choosing it.
We are not only more than enough – we are uniquely who we are, and we were born to be here. When we drop the story that we’ve dragged around with us – all the lies that dull our shine – we can free ourselves up to sing our song, musically or metaphorically. I only wish that I’d had half of Rachel’s wisdom, intuitive awareness and talent at the same age.
Of the various passions she’s pursuing, music is playing a part. Now and again, a little bit at a time, she’s recording her songs. I truly hope one day to have a whole album of her music, and for it to be available to anyone who would want to gift themselves the experience … but regardless of whether that happens or not, more than anything, I’m happy that she’s happy.
Sonic siSTAR, may planet earth be so lucky as to know of your superstardom. The world is a far more beautiful place for having you in it, and for the gift of your essence and your songs. You are your own lyrics, sweet being…
Eyes of honey and a heart of gold.
Radiant beauty, a wise old soul.
You belong to the stars, how did you find this place?
…I have no idea how you found it, but I’m so glad you did.
(A massive thank you to Rachel for her willingness to allow me through this story to share her vulnerability, including the video of ‘Crying Fireflies’ which has never been available publicly until she agreed to it for this story.)
Left: Rachel enjoying the lush, bountiful delights of the Sunshine Coast.
Right: Photo by Sean Smith
© Maia Kshemya 2017