composer's note: In 2018, poet Maggie Smith went through a very difficult time personally, and started publishing daily "notes to self" on Twitter to help her get through those hard times. Every one of those notes ended with the two words "keep moving" as a reminder not to wallow but to find a way forward. She has continued publishing these notes to this day! Over time, her Twitter account gathered an enormous following of celebrities & regular folks, sharing her daily notes & finding solace in them. And especially in these hard times we’re all going through as a nation, those notes began to feel relevant to everything in life, advice for all of us on how to navigate the world in this intense, difficult time.
For this cycle, I chose eight of these brief Twitter poems, beginning with the very first of these notes that Smith ever published, and ending with the reflective note she published on the first anniversary of this project. These songs and duets take those notes and expand them, allowing the listener to dwell on Smith's profound words. They amplify the emotions in these texts to something huge & unavoidable, so that one has to come to terms with this advice rather than scrolling by. And really, they seek to comfort, to provide musical entertainment but also concrete emotional paths forward, to keep moving through the difficult moments in life and find joy on the other side.
1. “Fuel” Do not be stilled by anger or grief. Burn them both and use that fuel to keep moving. Look up at the clouds and tip your head way back so the roofs of the houses disappear. Keep moving. 2. “The Center That Holds” Think about how you move through landscapes, through time zones, across boundaries—and you are you, regardless. Picture yourself as the center that holds no matter what changes occur in your life. Keep moving. 3. “Among Trees” Try to get out of your own way today. Do what you can to quiet your ego, to soften the boundary between yourself and everything—and everyone—else. Breathe deeply. Spend time among trees. Wander off for a while. Keep moving. 4. “Don’t Be Ashamed” The road you’re traveling is long and uphill; don't be ashamed when you stumble now and then. Adding the weight of shame to what you’re already carrying will only make the distance feel longer, the incline feel steeper. Besides, you aren't walking alone. Eyes ahead. Keep moving. 5. “Let Light In” Remember that changing one thing can change everything. Let more light into your life by letting more light into this day. Then repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Keep moving. 6. “The Mess Is Where The Magic Lives” Stop putting yourself down for letting sadness seep into your joy, or letting joy seep into your sadness. Your heart is not a cafeteria tray for keeping things separate, making sure nothing touches. Feel it all, even if it’s messy. The mess is where the magic lives. Keep moving. 7. “Many Lives” You will have many lives within this one life. Some may end badly. But every place you’ve been, every person you’ve loved or let love you, every life you’ve lived already adds up to who you are. You make yourself as you go. Keep moving. 8. “Eyes Ahead” Look back at the road you’ve traveled to get to this place. Think of the long miles, the long nights, the paths you had to make for yourself when the road seemed to end. But it didn’t end. You’ve made it this far already, and you can keep going. Eyes ahead. Keep moving.