we saved an article last sunday: “the best waterfall in every u.s. state”. from alabama to wyoming, we scrolled through to see how many waterfalls we had seen. there were aggressive falls and double falls, falls that trickled from natural springs and, of course, niagara falls. we have missed many. like the articles about the best small towns or best places to retire, it’s all about dreaming. a list of waterfalls.
we hike or walk many miles each week, either on the weekend or squeezed into the rest of the sun at the end of the weekday. yesterday and the day before we noticed a tiny waterfall on our trail. it didn’t make it to the list of “the best” but it gave us pause and we stopped to watch and listen. the sound of a trickling stream, the sound of a minute waterfall…both unquestionably sounds of peaceful flow. we drank it in. we stood together in a silent, still dance.
as i looked at the list of waterfalls, it occurred to me that it is not likely i will ever see all of them. there is much on our bucket lists and, though i can appreciate – very much – adding this list into the bucket, i also know that it’s not the award-winning, the listed, that will always touch us.
the best waterfalls – for me – haven’t been the grandiose waterfalls. though i can appreciate their grandeur, it is the waterfall you stumble upon in the woods, the waterfall that shows up just when you needed a waterfall, the waterfall that will never make the list that negative-ions you into a feeling of well-being.
when i was in my thirties and composing i started to dream. in my forties – composing, recording, performing – i was headed to niagara in my dreams. sometimes i’d watch the grammys and wonder. but the smaller waterfalls – despite their beauty, despite their ability to resonate or to bring peace, despite the number of times on “repeat” – will not likely show up at the grammys. nevertheless, they have fault-in-our-stars impact. even to one.
charts – the top 100, say – are compiled by detecting the songs played on a select panel of top 40 radio stations. this is not objective, nor is it not machinated. many, many integrated, financial and complex symbiotic relationships go into the positioning of a song, the charting of a song. “the best songs” lists beget “the best songs”.
back in 2002 – waaaay back…up the waterfall, upstream, backaways – one of my songs charted on the secondary adult contemporary radio chart. “slow dance” made it up to #13. i was inordinately thrilled but, like many things, it did not come without a price tag. the radio promoter was steep, not to mention a little slimy. it’s a system and, at least back then, those guys had it wired. it wasn’t long before i realized that the charting did not help. it quickly flowed over the riverstones, past the boulders at the peak of the cliff and dropped – the waterfall never stopping for pause.
i don’t necessarily need to see the “best waterfall in every u.s. state”. instead, i think i’d rather see the ones that will invariably touch me, will give me moments to stop and drink them in. i’d rather see the ones that go mostly undiscovered. for even in their relative obscurity they are a gift and they count.
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