Finding meaning through music by Heather Hutchison The music pulses through my headphones, the chords and lyrics I know just about as well as I know myself. I straighten, stand square to the microphone and begin to sing. I am in the studio recording my third release, a project that has been a long time coming, and the culmination of Photo by Chelsea Dawn a complicated journey through both places and emotions. The studio is perhaps my favourite place on earth, a perfectionist’s haven. After all, there aren’t many situations in life that give us the opportunity to erase our mistakes. As a mother vividly remembers the birth of each child, I remember how each song was born. From lyrics scribbled on a napkin in a dirty and crowded restaurant while I was living in Lima, Peru, to a song I wrote after coming back to Canada, unsure of how to
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re-adjust to my new old life. These songs are about the little, seemingly inconsequential things, those moments in time that seem so small and yet, later, we realize they have left their mark, and changed us in ways we may not understand for years to come. For me, moving to Peru was perhaps not for the reasons one would expect from a 23-year-old recent college graduate. It was not a spontaneous decision, but something I had planned for most of my life. Like many young people, I moved away from home looking for adventure, but more than that, I went in search of acceptance. I was born blind, and since I can remember, it has been something that others used to define me. Despite my best efforts to redefine myself, throughout my life I have been known as ‘The Blind Girl.’ I wanted to be known for something else, to be different for a different reason. When people met me, I wanted them to ask about how things are in Canada, not how I choose my clothes in the morning. In Peru, I was treated with the nonchalance about my blindness that I had previously only ever found through collaborating with other musicians. People were far more interested in the differences between our two cultures than worrying about such a minor detail as my lack of vision. I was free to be me, a bigger version of myself than I had been before. During my time in Peru, I met many people who changed me. I ate with beautiful people in homes with dirt floors and delighted in their joy at being able to share their time and themselves with me, because that is all they had to give. These people were unashamed: they had what they had, they were who they were, and they were content. They taught me to focus on the dayto-day moments and joys instead of always looking at the bigger picture. It is their stories, intertwined with mine, that I share in these songs.
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