I listened to a choir performance my cousin shared of my Aunt Cathy—who apologized because she’d only intended to share it with choir members—and there was something there for me because I got this little tickle (of heart and brain flirting like courtship) that made me follow his lead and also offer reverent music. And my first impulse was to share something I’ve shared before–Part 1 of Chichester Psalms–because the specific Psalms the music references (108 v2 and 100) do this eruption of joy within me. Not sure why. I assume most likely because I don’t have any religion “radar blips” in my past so have been spared the disappointment of seeing that sometimes what looks like deep and lovely faith is just a nervous little man behind a curtain pulling switches. In my world, Jesus hasn’t been tainted and misused—nobody utilized him to abuse my much more sacred Source-appointed free will—so I have emotional freedom to look upon him
Click for audio
“Eddie Vedder admits that he changes the lyrics and meaning of the song when he performs it, but he wrote the song with one story in mind. The song was written during the first gulf war, when “Papa Bush” was President, as Eddie calls him. The story is about a young Grunger kid, all dressed up in his flannels with the long greasy hair. His brother goes off to fight in the war and gets killed. He gets a letter that comes in one of those yellow army envelopes and learns of his brother’s death. So, all upset, he decides to go out and walk it off. On his walk he passes by a neat, middle-aged or elderly couple sitting on their front porch having some tea, and he sees that they have an American flag out. He gives a wave, because he feels like he relates: “The flag, my brother, you know…” But they don’t know, of course. They don’t know what’s underneath the grunge and the long hair. All they see are the outward appearances, and they don’t wave back.”
Today I unfollowed a FB page when one of the members group-texted calling Bernie supporters ‘burnouts’.
It was all pro-Hillary and blah blah blah, look at how over-intellectualized we are followed by invented narratives and name-calling like five-year-olds.
And maybe I’m rushing too quickly to protect myself from those unlike me, but when time is short–and honestly, it’s actually short for all of us, all the time–it becomes less possible to entertain living within such an unsightly, formulaic dynamic. Because I’m more than the sum of one-word branding and finding space inside to nurture myself has been hard, and I’ve grown intolerant of a world quick to call names while simultaneously wondering why the world is so messed up.
And interestingly, I didn’t get too upset about it, like I might have at one point in time.
It just made me think of this song. They played it at the Bernie Sanders rally last year.
I went with my younger daughter, Livy (who’s named after Mark Twain’s wife; born in the year 2000–11 months after the Y2K “disaster”, 10 months before 9/11–on the same day as Twain, and gifted too with writing ability, and cursed, as he, with too many ideas) because as we walked back to the car, the sun was going down, and I was like, why not live the big dreams?
Why not believe in a better world? Why not use my passion to unplug a world that instinctively questions the goodness of a broken-hearted grunge kid? Why shouldn’t I live a truth in which the ideas spoken by an older politician gives me hope that the world won’t forget the tender people in tatty shirts?
For when you look at what we do with our thoughts–mindlessly cataloging human beings so as to protect our emotional selves–we are magic beings creating poison worlds, distancing ourselves from one another for no reason, lost inside a world in which somehow it makes more sense to create a docudrama of nefariousness out of someone waving than it is just to pick up our goddammed arm and wave. And why should I not let my heart hold to that hope we can do better? What is so unbelievable about a big dream?
And driving home, we turned up Yellow Ledbetter as we sank into the sky and clouds of a magic day, and passing the golf course, I was singing along with the mournful lyrics–and yes: I was so dreamy that day–but when I looked at Livy in the passenger seat of my car, window down, hair blowing in the air of a warm day, the earth was tilting towards a star and I was like “look at that big dream.”
Look at that art project of sky and skin. The sky painted color that’s actually just air and the girl of tender-hearted benevolence imprinting the world with a more grace-filled future.
[734 words; 2 min 34 sec; heartbreak, neighbors, vulnerability].
And even in the dark, I knew I was cutting it too short.
But the late hour and the music from my headphones were mixing forcefully in my head with the words she had spoken so back and forth, back and forth, I cut the grass, leaving
[706 words; 3 min. 31 sec; Janis Joplin, nonconformity, changing the world with your story]
Sometimes I think it happens that Time becomes a weird entity, mashing together events of totally different origins and reconvening them as if they were occurring together, right then, into a singular story, clear in connection, real and provable. Maybe it’s a Tune in,
[512 words; 2 min.33 sec. America, nostalgia, current events]
I’ve been listening to this song all day and thinking about America.
I remember sitting in a car with my mother circa 1993, and being called on to defend my ex-husbands adopted Korean sisters because to mom all Asians were forever tainted by Pearl Harbor,