20:00 september 14th, 2017

i don’t even know where to begin, to be quite honest.

kath and i are snuggled up in our respective beds, freshly showered and laundry all done after 3 days spent somewhere, tucked away in big sur.

after a year-long creative drought when it came to songwriting, i finally wrote another song.

on the second day, after getting back to base camp, the rest of the group decided to go to the beach. i decided to hang back at the campsite, play my guitar and have some alone time. we had just come from a hike, filled with wonderful conversation and seemingly effortless vulnerability. by the end of it, i had come to internalize that forgiveness is not something you just do but rather it is the intentional release and casting away of the worry/guilt/anything holding you down. it is not only forgiving my past self but also letting go of the potential “wrongs” that i fear every day.

i went down to the river bank with my guitar and, for the first time in a long time, i felt complete privacy. at this beautiful, crystalline river rushing before me with the water crashing down on the rocks, anything i said or screamed or belted was completely consumed by the sound of the river, and it was freeing, especially after living in a dorm where you do not necessarily have any privacy.

my professor asked us last week what struck us most about being in nature, and i replied how small i felt, which i’ve talked about before. but when completely immersed in it, i have never felt so small, yet so powerful in my life.

standing at the top of a mountain overlooking the pacific, throwing stones into the mountain valley, staring up at the redwoods, seeing more stars than i have ever seen in my life, watching the sun set over the coast– i felt so small. and in a lifetime where i have always been conscious of how much space i take up, it was liberating.

in my journal i wrote, “While nature is relentless, it is above all forgiving.”

on that riverbank, on the riverside, when you finally have that privacy and that freedom, what do you say? what do you do when the river cannot hear you? the river continues to beat on. you can scream at it, you can curse, you cast all of your energy into it. the mountains, the river, everything in that space can take any energy you need to give it. and it will beat on. relentlessly. while i appreciate this most about nature, i internalised that this is what i, too, must be: relentless and forgiving. so i felt the desperate need to write this song. something to capture how much i have learned from the river.

i wrote the first verse and prechorus and had a few ideas but none of them stuck. i walked back to the campfire, and joel asked me if i had been writing music. i never write music with anyone, but this man somehow got me to riff with him and we ended up with a chorus and a bridge, simultaneously singing our praises about the rest of our group and the experience itself. i want to thank him for drawing that out of me.

another point of inspiration where this song came from is the song alaska by maggie rogers (particularly this acoustic version). the lyrics mean the world to me, especially moving forward on this trip and into next year, and it became somewhat of a prayer, as i found myself singing it to the river at every silent moment as a way to center myself.

i wanted to write a song that could serve as my own song of triumphant liberation from every thing/worry/person/memory that has stuck itself to me from the past. to let go, to wash off everything, to be relentless. plus, i could belt it at the crashing river in a cathartic celebration of myself and feel brand new. relentless and forgiving.

that is what i must be.

i’ve learned so much in the past few days and i’ve barely scratched the surface in this post. but i’d like to share with you my newest song the riverside. as written in my journal, “it is about casting away your rock, detaching yourself from your strife, and singing against a river that does not mind.”

riverside lyrics




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