The realm of songwriting is the realm of music where I have found the most freedom for creative expression. Even within this domain, I can still feel confined. In the writing of this song, which happened in collaboration with several visitors to the asylum center, I found that it was my ukulele that was limiting my creative ability. In the writing of this song, I discovered (or I was reminded) that the only instrument where I have complete, uninhibited freedom is my voice.
This revelation was particularly powerful for me, as I work as a guide to help people give voice to their life experiences. In Brussels, I work with many refugees, who express the feeling that they have no way of being heard and no control over the decision of whether they be granted asylum or be forced to return to places of violence.
The songs we create are expressions of desire for change, freedom, and hope. It is important for me to maintain my own freedom in the process as well. If not, what kind of creativity and expression am I modeling?
This song was written in collaboration with Sarah Reader Harris, my co-volunteer at the asylum center; Mahmoud, Aless, and Marysia.
The pigeons were particularly present for the writing of this song. Marysia shared the line: I want to feed the birds. The birds took this line to heart and were adamant that the macaroons Sarah brought to share with writing participants should also be shared with them.
To read more about the writing of this song, visit: Guiding Song: The hand that hurts can also heal
These recordings illustrate the process of writing the song:
These videos offer glimpses into our creative group process: