Both at the Same Time (2018)

by Shannon Curtis

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about

Have you ever had a Both at the Same Time experience?
Like this …

In one hand you hold one idea, or emotion, or truth,
and you know with your whole heart that it is solid, it is real, it is true …
and in your other hand,
you hold another idea, or emotion, or truth,
— which you also know with your whole heart to be solid, real, and true —
but which exists in exact opposition to the truth you hold in your first hand.

Like rejoicing in the rapturous beauty of the astonishing world in which we live;
while also gulping for air in unknown depths of grief over the loss of someone you love.

Like recognizing injustice in our world which must be relentlessly resisted and forcefully fought;
while also allowing an unbridled joy for life sustain you and lead the way.

Like observing how a person has figured out how to honorably make sense of the world for themselves;
while also — even if the belief or value system they’ve landed upon looks entirely different than your own — embracing the idea that you can wholeheartedly celebrate their discovery with them.

There they are.
In your hands.
Two things …

that you know are both true,
that may stand in direct contradiction to one another,
that will not ever be resolved to each other,
that you do not have the power to change,
and therefore which you will continue to hold,
Both at the same time.

Did you know, in that way, you are just like LIGHT?

For centuries, scientists agreed that light is emitted in the form of waves.
But then Isaac Newton came along and proposed that light is best described as a particle.
And the scientists freaked out, because in their understanding at the time,
waves are entirely different than particles, and particles cannot be waves.
But what if, as Albert Einstein suggested, light embodies a dual nature?
And, indeed, that is now what science accepts as true:

Light is both a particle AND a wave.
Both at the same time.

Here’s what I think about all of this
as it relates to our real, beautiful, messy, exhilarating, tedious, everyday lives:

I think that learning to hold opposing truths in tension
is a kind of spiritual practice …
that allows us to explore deeper understanding,
invites us to experience transcendence,
and nurtures progress in our lives and in our world.

And yeah. Tension is uncomfortable. Conflicting realities are difficult. Uncertainty can be distressing.
But this is where the light is.
This is where life is.
We can hold both at the same time.

credits

released June 15, 2018

written by Shannon Curtis
published by Shannon K (ASCAP)
produced by Jamie Hill
engineered & mixed by Jamie at The Department of Energy Management, Tacoma
arranged by Jamie and Shannon
recorded by Shannon and Jamie
additional production by Shannon

license

all rights reserved

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about

Shannon Curtis Tacoma, Washington

"Both at the Same Time," Shannon's sixth full-length record, was released on June 15, 2018.

Shannon lives in Tacoma, WA with her husband, record producer / engineer Jamie Hill.

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Track Name: Armed With Joy
For a year, I held my breath
What edifice would the bastards tear down next?
Can’t hold your breath forever
Not when the fight depends on every one of us

We are fists raised and loud voices
Street-marching feet
We are arms locked, bodies braced
For the war machines

And we are open hands toward angry faces
We are swirling dancers claiming spaces
We wear steadfast smiles of subversive grace
And we celebrate because we own this place

These hateful thieves breathe our fear
They’ll choke if we transform the atmosphere
Look: the danger is persistent
So we arm our hearts with joy to resist it

We are fists raised and loud voices
Street-marching feet
We are arms locked, bodies braced
For the war machines

And we are open hands toward angry faces
We are swirling dancers claiming spaces
We wear steadfast smiles of subversive grace
And we celebrate because we own this place

Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance

Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance
Like we’ve already won

Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance
We’ve already won

We are open hands toward angry faces
We are swirling dancers claiming spaces
We wear steadfast smiles of subversive grace
And we celebrate
We celebrate

Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance
Come, come with me let’s dance
We've already won
Track Name: Flowers and the Flood
This is how we grieve
This is how we love
You mix water with the dirt, you grow shoots, you make mud
This is where we grieve
This is where we love
From the same patch of earth springs flowers and the flood
Flowers and the flood

My heart’s a field, come walk it, you’re invited
Your boots will sink, but feel the grass is high
The soil is rich because for you I’ve cried
The levees broke when you spoke like a stranger
The sadness flowed and covered every acre
And still I know I want you in my life

This is how we grieve
This is how we love
You mix water with the dirt, you grow shoots, you make mud
This is where we grieve
This is where we love
From the same patch of earth springs flowers and the flood
Flowers and the flood

My heart’s a field, come walk it, you’re invited
Your boots will sink, but feel the grass is high
The soil is rich because for you I’ve cried
(This is how we grieve)

My heart’s a field, come walk it, you’re invited
Your boots will sink, but feel the grass is high
The soil is rich because for you I’ve cried

This is how we grieve
This is how we love
Track Name: Something Like Hallelujah
Hey baby, I see your path is rough
You’re clearing out some brush
What have you found?
Unsteady feet question the earth
Your eyes light up like sunbursts

The world, the world is hard
And the world is ours
I see you’ve found yourself a place to stand
Where the angle of the light makes things make more sense
And it’s not a phrase that I really use, but
All I can say is something like hallelujah

This mystery, a love I did not know
When I wore someone else’s clothes
I lost, I found
We’re dancing, me and the unknown
My eyes alight with wonder

The world, the world is hard
And the world is ours
My feet have found themselves a place to stand
Where the angle of the light makes things make more sense
And it’s not a phrase that I really use, but
All I can say is something like hallelujah

This vicious trail is lined with
Layers I’ve shed as I’ve climbed it
I see you over on your own mountain peak
Looking down at the same beauty as me

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Track Name: Perpetually Unopened Box
See this box on my kitchen table
I see it there every morning, there every night
It never opens, just sits there holding
All that could go wrong and all that could go right
All that could go right

What else can I do but just walk on by?
I’ll always never know what’s inside
What else can I do but live my life?
There’s always only this moment in time

Every now and then I hear a voice saying
“Stop what you’re doing and come over here
Aren’t you curious, worried that in here sits
Your greatest hope and your greatest fear?
It’s all inside here.”

What else can I do but just walk on by?
I’ll always never know what’s inside
What else can I do but live my life?
There’s always only this moment in time
There’s only ever this moment in time
There’s always only this moment in time

Just walk on by
There’s always only this moment in time
Just walk on by
There’s only ever this moment in time
Just walk on by
There’s always only this moment in time
Track Name: The Sun Rose Today
I awoke in golden light
Folded into my lover’s side
And in the waking, I heard a voice say your name
Like stone my heart sank

The fields out my window are impossibly green
And my eyes in deep blue rapture of this eternal canopy
Tell me: how is it possible that you’re not here to see?
How is it possible that you’re gone?
These are the things taking my breath away:
The sun rose today, and you did not

Here we drive at highway speeds
Chasing beauty, claiming dreams
And in my throat, a brick of curses and tears
For your stolen years

The fields out my window are impossibly green
And my eyes in deep blue rapture of this eternal canopy
Tell me: how is it possible that you’re not here to see?
How is it possible that you’re gone?
These are the things taking my breath away:
The sun rose today, and you did not

Can I just sit here for a while, and let the silence take my mind
Holding both at the same time
The beauty and the pain
The emptiness, the everything
The beauty and the pain
The emptiness, the everything
The emptiness, the everything

The beauty and the pain
The beauty and the pain
The beauty and the pain
The beauty and the pain ...
Track Name: Coming Home
The truck pulls away from the life we made
And with it all the roots out from the ground
But how could we have stayed?
We clearly heard our names carried on the wind over the sound
Tears tumble from my eyes and fall on cheeks turned up in a smile

It’s a hard goodbye and glad hello
It’s reaching out and letting go
Gaining a mountain in trade for the ocean
Holding all we were and all we’ll be
Looking behind and ahead to possibility
We’re always leaving and finding
And coming home
Coming home

The city recedes, along with a part of me
Roaming the streets I love, a heartbroken ghost
But there’s this open door, a dream we can’t ignore
Adventure doesn’t wait, you just have to go
Tears might dry up in the time it takes for you to drive over the state line

It’s a hard goodbye and glad hello
It’s reaching out and letting go
Gaining a mountain in trade for the ocean
Holding all we were and all we’ll be
Looking behind and ahead to possibility
We’re always leaving and finding
And coming home
We're coming home

There is no coming without leaving
And without making there’s no finding
Some might say it’s all just dreaming
What if there’s no such thing as arriving?
If there’s no coming without leaving
And without making there’s no finding
I don’t care if it’s just dreaming
With you I’m leaving and finding
And coming home
Coming home
Coming home
Coming home
Track Name: Beautiful Life
Would you believe me if I told you
That a sunbeam tapped my shoulder?
And she told me what my life would be
She terrified me, and she set me free

I’ve never been so scared in my whole life
And I couldn’t believe my eyes
It was so beautiful, beautiful
I’ve never been so sure of what was right
And though it left me trembling inside
It was my beautiful, beautiful life

Would you go with me on a reckless journey?
Down this highway, we don’t know where it leads
The wind propels us, tears make the pavement slick
And there is always this unbelievable sunset

I’ve never been so scared in my whole life
And I can’t believe my eyes
It’s just so beautiful, beautiful
I’ve never been so sure of what is right
And though it keeps me trembling inside
This is my beautiful, beautiful life

At the end of all this, will we know why?
At the end of everything, will it matter if we got any of it right?
All I know is this road has a voice
And it’s calling me to make a choice
I want this life, and I want you by my side

I’ve never been so scared in my whole life
And I can’t believe my eyes
It’s just so beautiful, beautiful
I’ve never been so sure of what is right
And though it keeps me trembling inside
This is my beautiful, beautiful life
Beautiful, beautiful life
It’s just so beautiful, beautiful
Track Name: Misfit Stars
I can show you all of the places I am broken
Come trace the edges here
Every crack and dangerous sliver
Whispers a story when you’re up close to hear

But take a step back, a little further
I want to show you
The bigger picture shines
Like misfit stars in the night

Look at them sparkle, all glued together
I am a shattered and shimmering whole

See this fracture?
It comes from words that shouldn’t be spoken
To any little girl
And over here there’s a jagged splinter
It’s self-inflicted
Those always cut the worst

But take a step back, a little further
The edges catch light
The bigger picture shines
Like misfit stars in the night

I have hard-earned every piece here
I’ve paid in blood and I’ve paid with my soul
I will not cover or hide in shame here
These are my diamonds, my silver and gold
All glued together, with love and glitter
All put together, the bigger picture shines
Like misfit stars in the night

Look how they sparkle, all glued together
I am a shattered and shimmering whole
Look how they sparkle, all put together
I am a shattered and shimmering whole
Track Name: I'll Leave My Words For You
When you look in the mirror
Do you ever see me
Like I see you, all the time
When you wake from dreaming
Do you ever miss me
Like I miss you, all the time
All the time

There’s always a moment when I've picked up the phone
To dial your number, voice broken
And my breathing’s put on hold
I know how this plays out
I’ll hear a distant tone
And I’ll leave my words for you

When you watch your children
Do you ever see us
Like we were once, in another time
When you cry for what was
Do you ever miss the understanding
Borne of sharing storylines
Like I do all the time

There’s always a moment when I question the sense
In dialing your number, heart open
And braced for the worst
I call though it hurts
What else is left to lose?
And I’ll leave my words for you
I’ll leave my words for you

When you look in the mirror
Do you ever see me
Like I see you?
Track Name: Dear Little Girl
Dear little girl
With your little hands you colored such straight lines
Attempts to hem the tangled chaos of the time we survived
Little girl
With your little voice you spoke from memory
The stories you were told to help us sleep
In a make-believe peace

There’s a picture of you
In the locket round my neck
I’m moving on
But I promise not to forget
That you were there for me
When I needed some certainty
And you believed it, oh you believed it
There’s this mystery, listen, it beckons me
I’m moving on
And I won’t forget
I’ll wear you round my neck

Dear little girl
In your little fists you clutched the fading flowers
Like our life depended on the faith they’d never go brown

There’s a picture of you
In the locket round my neck
I’m moving on
But I promise not to forget
That you were there for me
When I needed some certainty
And you believed it, oh you believed it
There’s this mystery, listen, it beckons me
I’m moving on
And I won’t forget

You brought me this far
And it’s no small miracle
But for the next mile
I need some new tools
You got me this far
And for that, I thank you
Thank you

There’s a picture of you
In the locket round my neck
I’m moving on
(There's a picture of you)
I’m moving on
(There's a picture of you)
And I won’t forget
(I'm moving on)
I’ll wear you round my neck
(I'm moving on)
I’ll wear you round my neck
(I'm moving on)
There's a picture of you

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