To say that I've lived a charmed life won't do. I'll bet with a little more heartbreak, I coulda' been a poet. With a little more bad luck, I mighta' sung the blues. Sometimes I worry that maybe I'm using up more than my share of good fortune.
The women who raised me wanted a perfect life for me. I got it.
I'm shooting for tri-polar. If joy has any value, I'm a rich 'un.
Oh, I know what you're thinking- here we go again. No, I'm just quoting Arthur Rimbaud, that most fragile of all our dead poets.
Some of us just work without a net; don't have guardrails; lack filters; need a governor.
There's not a boss, partner, producer, editor, teammate, director or mate who could put up with me. I would like to defend myself, at least half-heartedly, by claiming that I have good intentions, but we both know better.
If I had it all to do over, I guess I'd do it all over again.
Some rise to the surface when I spend too much time with myself. I suppose we all have memories that we would like to erase. That first encounter barely registers in the hippocampus savings account.
There he was- a legend-in-the-making. I remember feeling a little bit sorry for him. Rockabilly had come and gone. He was on a bill with current stars. We never even called it "rockabilly" until it came back around. He was local. That's not good anywhere. Still, it stirred that stuff that flows in my veins.
Somehow, over the next few decades, we got to be close friends. We would sit and drink coffee and tell tales of rock'n'roll for hours at a time. European fans had found him and begged him to return. He had been, in fact, the first of the rockabilly stars to tour over there.
As my life spiraled and began to seem like one of his songs, we lost touch.
Then, one day, I saw him several aisles over in a record store. His collar was turned up and his hair was slicked back. I could tell, though, that he was not well. I slipped out without saying anything to him.
His obituary showed up in the tribune a few days later.
Life is easy until you learn to make it hard. The scientists, of course, consider their work holy. The poets, too. Sadly, weapons are spun from the alchemy of the scientists and record and radio men defile the pretty music and the rhymes.
Try to imagine "nothing" and remind yourself why you believe whatever it is that you believe.
Smile at a baby and it will smile back. Somebody will have to teach that baby to hate.
Kindness is fashionable. Some folks just don't know it.
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes I find myself standing on the edge of truth. It's one of the benefits of my job. I don't make much money and the retirement plan is lacking, but there are occasions when I can see all the way inside.
Somewhere in the mix of poetry and science is the stuff that makes it all up. The dervishes dance to it. Rauschenberg found it in the trash all over lower Manhattan. Sometimes I can smell it. In fact, every now and then the very specific aroma will stay with me for days.
Looking for it is like playing with mercury. The best-laid plans won't get it and you surely can't buy it. Sit still and listen to your heart. Wait a lifetime. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of it.
Here are a few hints:
Lester Young, crushed velvet, sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico, new romance, old dogs, cracks in marble, kindness.
Here I sit, blathering on as though I'm some authority. I do know this- It parades in front of all of us. The fortunate ones, the poets, the scientists, are visited from time to time.
Overwhelmed with stimulus of every sort, I finally realize that I'm just along for the ride. I seem to barely settle into joy when heartbreak yanks me into the far lane. I swill poetry and I stop to look at every weed with a little flower. "Look Homeward, Angel" comes wafting across the lobes and I'm mournful.
Knowing full well that I will leave this planet having experienced such a tiny portion of what has been right in front of me, keeps me searching. Oh, it doesn't keep me from a good nap. Yeah, boy- I'll rank a good siesta under a slow ceiling fan right up there with any extravaganza on Broadway.
Meanwhile, I've seen the girls dance at Club Lido and I've had Harold's root beer shakes at the Old Meeting House. I've danced and I've laughed, and I've loved and cried. I don't suppose that there's any such thing as doing it right or doing it wrong.
There's nothing out there that can't be patched up with kindness.