Saturday, December 13, 2008

Upon the wings of forgotten music...

Sometimes, when the mood strikes, when boredom precludes other ventures, or when something in me longs for remembrance, I drag out my little Ipod and see where it will take me. It still amazes me that something the size of a postage stamp can hold a full day's worth of music. It should come as no surprise to those who know me that the music I have loaded into the diminutive machine is, for the most part, of a generation that is now slipping rapidly into old age. My generation.

As I listen to the anthems of my youth, I am transported back, to a time when so many things really mattered, and when my passions were never too far below the surface of my thoughts. I find myself filled with a deep longing, not for a return to those times, but rather to the consciousness and passion that so filled me then. And to the sense that there was something more to me than my functionality, my accomplishments (or lack thereof), and my many mistakes and failures. There was so much before me back then, and I find myself wondering where all that potential went, and how much of it is left. And most poignantly, I find myself hoping that there might still remain some spark of the best that I thought I could be.

Some songs fill me with a bittersweet sadness. "Child's Song" by Tom Rush reminds me of the time when I finally sought a path apart from my parents', and departed without the anger that had become such a predominant part of our relationship. Another of his songs, "Old Man's Song," reminds me of a rapidly approaching Autumn. Yet I do not feel the hopeless frustration he describes; perhaps I have simply not reached that feeble time. Or, perhaps I have found a path that will keep the regrets of old age at bay. Only time will tell.

Other songs remind me of loves past; the beautiful muse who held such a huge part of my soul for most of my adult life; the lovely "platonic" friend in college - we only acknowledged having been in love with each other as our paths were to diverge forever, her to Alaska, and me to serve in the Navy. There were the many random infatuations that touched me over the years, each returning for a moment of silent acknowledgment. The wife who bore me the greatest blessings any human may experience. I can barely recall the anger at our ending, for clinging to the pain serves me no purpose. Better to simply love and let go. And there was the one woman to whom I finally shared the core of my ugliness, and who loved me, nonetheless. Taught me, at long last, not to hate myself. To each of these, I can conjure only tenderness, and recall only love. There is no need to go back, and no longing to do so. I have been graced with their presence, and hold the sweetness of that presence still. The woman who shares my life and my heart nowadays knows the stories. Knows their place at the table of my reverie. And is herself touched that I now choose to give my love to her.

Perhaps I am trapped in a time-warp of sorts. Few examples of modern music touch my soul as do those shining moments we now call "classic rock." I have no doubt that each generation clings tightly to "their" music, not so much for the inherent genius it represents, but rather for the instantaneous transport it provides, a free ticket to dreams nearly forgotten. A rekindling of potential, to remind us that it has been neither lost nor wasted.

And then, just as I feel so fully immersed in sweet melancholy, the wisdom of my Ipod hears the beating of my heart, and shifts completely the mood of its offerings. Jethro Tull, Hendrix, Bugs Henderson, Crosby Stills & Nash, and finally, the greatest hard rock band of all time. Funny... as "Whole Lotta Love" screams through my head, I might as well be sitting in the back of Michael's old yellow van as we - loves of our semester in tow - careen through the winding paths of the Piney Woods, in search of a perfect sunset (or at least a couple cases of Boone's Farm from the liquor store across the county line). Makes my eyes red every time I hear it. And wouldn't you know it? It just now began to play. The Ipod knows, and is all-wise. And I am compelled to listen, and again to follow those forgotten paths. Perhaps even to "go into the kitchen, make me something good to eat..." as that fine troubadour Jonathan Edwards used to say. It's a good place to be, and I thank all those who have joined me on that journey, even if only for a moment.
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