Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Pilgrim

All those hours of our lives are our own. We have to figure out what to do with them, but having our feet on the ground is a good beginning.

Natalie Goldberg
I wish I was a sample man. I wish I had a simple life. I sometimes wish I had never seen the backstage of a theatre, the inside of a radio studio, or the handle of a drum stick. I wish I didn't know about ontology, cosmology, semantics, ethics, metaphysics, sociology, politics, history and religion. I wish I didn't know about Bach, Mozart, Wagner and Schoenberg. I'm often tempted to discard all my books and magazines and never buy another one.

I wish I had lived a simple life with a steady job doing something mechanical or educational; a grammar school Phys Ed teacher. I like kids, That would have been a good one.

I would have liked to have a simple home with a wife who liked to smile and keep her house and her garden, while I fixed things up around it. I would be happy with simple food: franks and beans, burgers and potato salad, pea soup, Once a week I would take her out to dinner: Chinese, Italian, steaks and chops.

In the evening we would watch a movie or two. I would get my news from the TV and not think much about it. I would enjoy a good ball game and have a favorite team. Once a year we would take a vacation and go to the shore or to Disneyland.

And if I wanted to be creative I'd paint pictures of flowers from her garden and not worry if they were any good or not.

I would enjoy a good joke and share it with my buddies over checkers, while she was with her ladies sewing circle talking about whatever ladies talk about.

I would be reasonably healthy, well fed and sleep the sleep of a grateful and contented man.

But I can't afford to properly feed myself. The TV news irritates me. I've been a Yankee fan since I was a child but I don't follow them now. I cherish my books even though I have to read with a magnifying glass. I love music and won't stop hearing more and more into it. I fret over every one of my paintings. There is no woman here, smiling or otherwise, no kids, no garden. I sleep in short spurts of time. And I am angry and distressed that illness has taken me away from my career.

The sound that you hear is my silent, fundamental, existential scream of rage and sorrow.

Come and sing with me, all you who are dissatisfied, even to any degree, with the conditions and limitations of your life. Come sing with me and we will raise the spirits that have ignored us and call them to account for their neglect. Come sing with me the song of the struggling pilgrim.

DB - The Vagabond


Valerie said...

I'm singing.

pacifica62 said...

I am dissatisfied to some degree with the conditions and limitations of my life, however, I do that in full realization that I am the one responsible for creating some of those conditions and limitations. I could easily have prevented some of them from happening or getting to the point that they are and some of the choices I made in my life could have been better. Who or what is the object of your anger and distress? Are you unhappy with yourself for getting older ---kind of difficult to stop time. I think many of us could have done things differently and made some better choices for ourselves that could possibly have earned us some degree of comfort in our senior years. Worked harder, saved more money, chosen better people to be in our lives, taken better care of ourselves. Disease really isn't all that fussy and it will strike people of any age, any income level and any background. I doubt that any of us is immune to a diagnosis we would rather not have. However, as I turn my gaze back out into the world and the souls that share this space with me, I find myself becoming increasingly humble and thankful that I do not suffer the way many others suffer.

DB said...

Pacifica, I generally enjoy and appreciate all your comments, but I must reply to this one. Not all or, in some cases, even most of a person's limitations and struggles come about because of their mistakes. I was born into poverty. That wasn'[t my fault, but it meant I was seriously deprived of many things I could have had in terms of education and development. I am not complaining about illness. I'm complaining because the illness has kept me from doing the work I love. I don't complain about not winning the lottery. I complain because I was speared by the plundering, parasitical and compassionless banks. I'm not complaining about old age. I would, if I wanted to, complain about younger people's prejudice against the aged.

Judith Ellis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judith Ellis said...

"Come and sing with me, all you who are dissatisfied, even to any degree, with the conditions and limitations of your life. Come sing with me and we will raise the spirits that have ignored us and call them to account for their neglect. Come sing with me the song of the struggling pilgrim."

This is not terribly uplifting, I'm afraid. I do not like to join in mournful song except during funerals and even there in my tradition it is a joyful song. This post leaves me sorrowful and this is an invitation that I would not like to take. Now, we can sing but it would have to be a song of life or one that speaks of death but of eventual rebirth. Will you join me? :-)

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

The situations we are fortunate or unfortunate to be born into, the choices we make as we take our life journey, the people we meet and connect or lose contact with, these all shape our later years. I know you have some more connections to make, and this will continue to shape your path. Not really a song, but it makes my heart sing.

pacifica62 said...

Well said db. I did not mean to imply that the limitations in your life were caused because you made mistakes. I was referring to my own life. The challenges that you faced were not of your own making.

DB said...

Judith. It is not an uplifting time for me. Nor for many. I will not scream loudly to cover the screams of the victims. As some do. Instead I will sing. The indifferent spirits of the deep don't listen to the agony. Perhaps they will enjoy the song.

Liz said...

Would you mind if I only hum the notes written by the Master of the Tune, Beethoven? Totally deaf to the world around him he still heard the music when he wrote his Ode to Joy.
I forget individual words when music accompanies them.It brings them into a different dimension where both need to be addressed as one and I cannot divide them.
Words and music together capture emotion.
Let your song reflect what you hold in your heart as well as your mind then ask your soul to carry it and it will be truly memorable.