You have to be hard-hearted, or not have one, to not like/love Taylor Swift, even if you don’t like country music. I started this post BEFORE I knew she was taking a young man with leukemia to the ACM awards (rather than his prom because of her schedule). I started this post after listening to a beautiful dharma talk by Tara Brach. She retold a story from a magazine called “The Sun“, which we both love. (www.thesunmagazine.org/ ) She didn’t list the issue or date of the story, but parts of it rang true so deeply in my heart. While it is too long to recount the whole story here, the podcast was Part 2 – Trusting Your Basic Goodness, 01/18/2012. In it Tara reads the words of a woman who writes, “My Mother always assured me that unspeakable punishments were bound to befall any child as naughty as I was. ‘If I were you,’ She said, ‘I’d be afraid to go to sleep at night for fear that God would strike me dead.'” She continues, “I thought myself unloved and unlovable, not only by my own mother, but by God himself.” This was a woman who found out that in the private school she was kicked out of, she had the highest IQ, but the lowest grades. She then writes what she heard as the most devastating words that her mother ever spoke to her. The police had just brought her home from an attempt at running away (there were many), so she said “it was bad timing on my part.” What she asked her mother was, “Do you love me?” Her mother’s answer was, “How could anyone ever love you?” The woman said it took her 50 years to heal from these words and the other ugliness her mother spoke to her. I can’t help but think of my own gifted, wonderful, yet flawed father saying something similar to me. These are words that become seared into your soul like a brand on a horse, and trying to get them to go away is like major surgery; many of us never recover.
The main point of Tara’s talk was our essential goodness. What a concept! Essential “goodness?” Maybe essential badness, but goodness? I think of all the artists, so gifted and talented that we have lost over decades, and this is what I believe separates Taylor from so many of them and their tragic ends. Her Mother and Father raised her to believe she was essentially “good.” This is rare, so rare it is worth not only a blog post but a book! Many, if not most of us, are raised to believe we are bad. We can try to work with therapists, with prayer, with meditation, but it’s difficult. We’re working with a nervous system that tells us we are under threat. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiger or a person who interupts your acceptance speech for an award. When you also grow up with words that cut your very being to fragments of detached, damaged selves trying to integrate into some kind of wholeness, it becomes almost impossible to put the pieces back together. Why would you even want to?
Watching any video of Taylor on tour, you see the deep and complete support she gets from her mother, father, her whole family (which includes her band). Watch the video she made to go with her song for her Mom (“The Best Day”) and you can see how she was cherished – what a precious gift!! I know my mother cherished me, even saw me as “saving” her life at a bad point in her marriage. My dear, departed father is another story. On some level I know he loved me, but he also hated me for reasons I can’t begin to understand.
People may think Taylor naive, an innocent, someone bound to become cynical at some point, but I don’t. As I watch her I find hope, for myself and for many of us who find it so hard to love ourselves. I see a young woman who still finds wonder in the sunrise, in blowing bubbles, in things that “shine.” I pray that she can keep that quality forever because it is a priceless gift. Bless you Taylor, and your brother, and your parents who took the time to show you how deep and enduring their love and God’s is for you. May the road you are travelling bring you joy, blessings and peace. You are a unique and amazing young woman and a talented musician. We lift you, your fans, with our love – but more importantly, you love yourself. Don’t ever let that go. Namaste‘.