My husband and I were blessed to live for the last three months just a few blocks from the Mediterranean Sea. Tel Aviv is a busy city and our apartment was on a small street that filled quickly in the pre-dawn hours with the cries of many crows and the pounding, crunching, wrenching noises of small apartment buildings being turned one-by-one into larger apartment buildings. Each morning we woke up keeping score of who was at it earlier this time, the workmen or the crows.
This is no sleepy, quiet beach resort. And yet, there was only so long I could go without the sea making its presence known to me. On my last week in Tel Aviv, I was coming home with heavy grocery bags in both hands. I turned the corner, picked up my head and there it was, peeking through the space left between two huge hotels: a thin strip of brightest blue, drawing my gaze outward and then further on until I stopped my grocery-laden march long enough to let myself notice the far horizon and the infinite sky beyond.
I had been taking a walk with a friend in Jerusalem earlier that same week and we were talking about how different Tel Aviv is from Jerusalem. “And then there’s the sea,” I added to my list of things that sets Tel Aviv apart, and we both paused for a moment. Then she told me about a Brazilian friend of hers who said that living by the sea means always having a glimpse of eternity.
I thought of this idea as I stopped right there with my grocery bags hanging from my hands and gazed at this tiny hotel-obscured strip of blue. And I was songstruck: overcome with the urge to hold this moment and lift it into song. I stood singing quietly to myself: “I catch you looking at me, eternity, as I gaze at the sea’s horizon. Eternity, I catch you looking at me, and I can’t seem to keep my eyes off you.”
It’s just a songseed — the first possibility of what may grow into a whole longer song someday or may be forgotten. But I carried that little songseed as my very own sonic amulet as I prepared to leave Tel Aviv and as I flew back to into this whopper of a Northeast winter.
We talk about all kinds of different things that art and creative work can be in our lives. But at its core, songwriting is simply what lets me lift up small moments like this and carry them with me across oceans. And in the darkness of winter, I am reminded that the songs I carry also carry me.