musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

A Control-Freak Goes Uncharted

I’ve been grooving on singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles for several years now.  Yeah, she’s pretty and sings catchy songs, but don’t dismiss her; she’s smart, writing songs  full of poetry, storytelling, and complexity.  She doesn’t go for cheap rhymes (the ones you can see coming around the corner).  AND she’s a huge goofball.  I love that in a person. (maybe because I’m one too?)

I was at the gym the other day when her song “Uncharted” started playing on my Ipod.  I’ve always loved this song, and now it was speaking to me in a different way.  Uncharted?  Why would I want to be Uncharted?  I’ve always had such a tight-grip on my Control.  Big-time planner.  List-maker.  Definitely Charted.

(from the song:)

I can’t help the feeling I’m going down

Follow if you want, I won’t just hang around

Like you’ll show me where to go

I’m already out

of foolproof ideas, so don’t ask me how

to get started; it’s all uncharted

Bareilles says in a video that this song was born out of writer’s block, wondering if she’d ever write another piece of music that she cared about.  The concept of being out of foolproof ideas is one I find ultra-scary, but then I also know that diving in and starting somewhere, not knowing where you’re going can also yield some of the juiciest material or surprising pathways.

I’m thinking spontaneity, serendipity, and intuition.  I’m thinking of Chris Baty, the National Novel Writing Month founder who wrote a book called, “No Plot?  No Problem!”  It’s all about writing fast and not knowing where you’re going, discovering the plot as you go.

Also, my tendency IS to hang around and wait for someone to show me where to go… it’s safe, but it keeps me waiting, and often stuck.

Jump start my kaleidoscope heart

(I just love the imagery of this phrase!)

I won’t go as a passenger, no

Waiting for the road to be laid

Though I may be going down

I’m taking flame over burning out

There’s bravery here, in deciding to be the driver when you’re going off-road.  I’ve been working on letting go—of outcomes, of control, of worrying about potential flame.

Compare where you are to where you wanna be

And you’ll get nowhere

At first this line tripped me up.  Aren’t I supposed to hold a vision of my goal uppermost in my mind?  Aim for it like I was shooting an arrow?

But I can see how I’ve often looked at my life as a Fixer-Upper Project.  I keep looking out to the big goals and getting down on myself for still not being there.  Comparing the Now-Me to the Future-Me.  This only leads me into self-reproach, inner scolding, and feeling bad.  Not a growth-model I’d recommend.

My new attempts at letting-go allow me to stop the comparing and come back to the present moment, the Now-Me.  It may seem paradoxical, but for me there’s more freedom, acceptance and actual growth in this.

So, Uncharted…  It got Sara Bareilles out of her writer’s block.  I’m curious, I’m up for the adventure, and I’ll see where it will lead me.

 *        *        *

Now that you’ve read some of the lyrics, here’s a fun video of her song (I am SO excited that I recently figured out how to embed videos in my blog!).  This one features various artists lip-synching along–  familiar faces like Ben Folds, Josh Groban, Tegan and Sara, Adam Levine and Ingrid Michaelson, among others.

 And if you’re up for it, here’s Miss SB herself playing her piano and singing the song.  I love the emotion, and how this simple rendition showcases her raw talent.  Enjoy!


  1. Rita

    I love the feeling of being in control and yet it’s such an illusion. I’ve been trying to be more spontaneous with life in general over the past few years and when something presents itself to me I go for it. At first I would leap at anything and now I’m working towards more of a balance! (Trying at least!) Before, I would “poo-poo” some experiences that now I will at least consider. I don’t think I can ever give up my lists, however!!
    Cool blog post-thanks! And I love love love Sara!

    • Theresa Alberti

      Oh, I am SO trying to remember that control is an illusion, an illusion that probably I needed when I was growing up in an emotionally chaotic home. Now sometimes I still find myself automatically clinging to control, out of habit, when it actually makes me tense, rigid, anxious and not happy. I’m trying to gently become aware, remember I can let go, and take big or small steps forward when I can. I love that you’re actively practicing being spontaneous… it sounds like you’re learning a lot from it.

      As for lists… yeah, don’t think I can give them up either. I get a kick out of them… but maybe I don’t have to let them run my life anymore.

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