Saturday, January 10, 2015

How Fragile We Are

In 1983, I turned twenty. I drove a little tan Subaru hatchback, big enough to fit my Fender Rhodes in the back with an inch to spare on either side.

The Police released Synchronicity in June of that year. My copy, on cassette, was worn thin; I drove that little Subaru round and round Lubbock's Loop 289 one lonely weekend night while the tape circulated in the deck. Sting's philosophical rhymes coursed through the air. The first side (back in the day, you see, we didn't have contiguous music; there were sides to records, and sides to cassettes, which provided clear delineation to the music...anybody with me here?


Anyway, the first side was good but weird. Incredibly inventive, intense, challenging. I appreciated it, but I didn't love it until five tracks in; "Synchronicity II" began the narrowing of the focus, and from that point on, I was mesmerized.

I was significantly impacted by that record in ways that I cannot really identify. I know that I carried it with my to the Dominican Republic, when I moved there in 1985, and I clearly recall pushing the tape into the stereo of a friend's Puegeot and saying, "Listen. Listen! Do you hear? Do you FEEL this?"

For the record, he didn't. He said he did, but he didn't.

/ / /

Determined to get some housecleaning done today while battling a severe case of I-would-really-rather-be-laying-down, I pulled up Synchronicity today for inspiration. It worked, in terms of getting me moving.

But it also sparked some synchronicity of its own, as the songs reverberated in my kitchen and deeper inside of me, in that place where memories are stored and seem to live, dormant, until some mysterious random conductor raise his baton and cues me to begin.

I can sing along, every note, every word. I can't remember what I need at the grocery store without a list, but I can sing every single line of every single song on that record.

And it's not just that I remember the words; the phrasing is familiar, as if it is part of me, as if I wrote it myself, as if I own it. I guess I do, in some way; it's internalized and now part of my history, the story of that sad girl who didn't quite know how to define herself, cruising an endless loop on the western edge of a dusty state that never quite felt like home. It's part of me, somehow, and I don't know if that is unique to me and my oddball musical leanings, or if we all walk around with an endless discography inside of us.

Last week, I watched a snippet of the most recent Kennedy Center Honors. Sting was a recipient this year, and Bruno Mars sang some of his songs to honor him. The energy from the stage was incredible; it was a beautiful, powerful performance, an honoring moment. Meryl Streep said of Sting:
Wrapped in velvet, his songs tore at your heart.
That's the truth.

/ / /

Last night, several 14-year old boys were at my house. At one point in the conversation, one kid mentioned Stephen Hawking, and somebody said, "Who is that? Does he go to our school?" I chuckled, thinking some stereotypical criticism about Kids These Days and their lack of awareness of the world around them...but it faded, quickly.

Because, truly, doesn't everything fade? The incredible power of a young rock star's influence on my life, and the lasting emotional connection that still powers through my soul even 30 years later - that's simply my experience, from my life and my culture, my moment to occupy this space. It is, indeed, a brave new world, one in which Sting is just a cool old dude who did a Broadway show and "Every Breath You Take" is an old song they play at Sheetz while you're pumping gas.

Our church hosted a lock-in last night, and my daughter and her husband helped chaperone. Shannon mentioned that in some conversation, she looked at a kid and said, "Hey - I've known you since you were five years old." I was struck, again, by the quick passage of time and the indelible imprints of our experiences on our hearts. Looking back, from this vantage point, what seems to be dripping through the slow press of my years is the moments like the soundtrack of that circular drive in a West Texas city, and the circumference of its presence deep inside me, ready to be called up at a moment's notice.

Sting once said,
All my life I have tried to find the truth 
and make it beautiful
and today I am feeling that in my bones, that the truth of my life as it has been lived can be a source of great beauty, and in this fragile moment I wonder if that's not the very essence of grace; the willingness to submit all that was, and is, and is to come, as quite simply, enough.

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star
Like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are

No comments: