Monday, September 10, 2012

Them Who Sail With Me

Thang’s been feelin’ heavy lately.

Now, before anyone worries or jumps to a conclusion or whatever (and readers I don’t know personally, forgive my paranoia here…I live in a really small town where rumors and gossip abound and everyone know’s everyone else’s news – usually even before it’s reached the “everyone” it actually affects)…Let me point out.  Nothing is wrong.  No problems at home.  No health issues.

Just life stuff.  Stress.  People drama.  Hassles.  Headaches.  Work.  Money.

You know how it be.  The stuff we all deal with.

Sometimes it really piles up.

I was just talking with some friends about how in 2008, things felt so different than they do now.  As cliché as it sounds…and I’m almost embarrassed to say it…but “hope” was actually in the air.  There was some kind of electricity out there.  You could sense it.  In your life and in the lives of other people.

Barack Obama was elected president, campaigning on that same message of hope.  Things were going to get better!

Around this time I was working with a great bunch of college students and we set out to change the world.  We actually started a regional non-profit organization that grew quickly.  We started an outreach to homeless folks in the St. Louis area.  We partnered teenagers with residents of area nursing homes for them to visit regularly.  Things were happening! 

It was an exciting time.

But lately it doesn’t feel that way.  That other stuff’s been piling up.  On all of us.

A family member mentioned it this morning: You can sense it in the air.  Just the same way you could sense the hope before…you can sense frustration now.

It seems like everyone’s at their limit, doesn’t it?  People have had it.  They’re fed up.  People are struggling.  Their worried and anxious.  They’re angry.

If you’re like me… and, I generally find that people are (It’s not that I’m special…it’s that I’m learning more and more that we’re all more connected than we realize.  When we started that charity, people kept telling me, “I’ve been thinking lately I should get involved…I’ve been thinking we could make a difference.”), you feel almost angry – maybe even ashamed – that we felt so unabashedly hopeful before.

Even so, I want to point out one thing.

The other day someone posted this quote on Facebook:

"Oh, you hate your job?  Why didn't you say so?  There's a support group for that.  It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."  - George Carlin

Of course, he’s right.  The prophet George Carlin almost always was.  But dig deeper into that statement.  Get past the snarky sarcasm of it.  He’s talking about community.  The sense that we’re all in this together. 

Because we are.  

Another of my heroes, the punk rock prophet Joe Strummer, used to point that out regularly.  He’d say we’re all alive, now, at the same time.  He meant that this is our life.  It’s happening to us.  Right now.  To all of us, at once.  We’re in it together.  We can wake up to that fact and live it together, or we can keep waiting for life to happen to us, while we’re unknowingly watching it pass us by.

I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan all afternoon.  One of the songs that scrolled its way through my playlist was “Mississippi”.  The following lyrics really struck me:

"Well, my ship's been split to splinters. It's sinkin' fast. I'm drownin' in the bosom. Got no future, got no past. But my heart is not weary. It's light and it's free. I got nothin' but affection for them who sail with me."

Them who sail with me.

That’s you, gentle reader.  That’s you, Dirty Roots Radio listener.

As prophet George implies above, yes, the system is screwed up.  Yes, it shouldn’t be the way it is.  But it is.  And, unfortunately, we all have to abide to some certain degree within the system.  We do what we have to, so that we can do what we want to. 

And what I want to do is share my ramblings here, and host the Dirty Roots Radio Show.  Sure I wish I could do those things for a living.  But unless something major changes, that’s not in the cards.

Sure, I wish life was stress-free, work was easy, and money wasn’t a concern.  But that’s not the case.  Pretty sure it never will be.

So, in the meantime, what we have is each other.

I randomly heard Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” last night and was really struck by the line, “I see friends shaking hands, saying ‘how do you do’.  They’re really saying ‘I love you’".

If you’ve taken the time to read my musings here – those about music or life or otherwise – or if you’ve ever listened to my radio show – then I’m not afraid to say I love you.  I’ll use the words “how do you do”, but what I’m really saying is, “I love you”.

It’s a big deal that you take the time to read this stuff.  It’s a big deal that you make time in your week to listen to my radio show.  I sincerely hope you get something out of it.

You are those who sail with me.

And while my ship may be breaking up, and I may feel like I’m drowning sometimes, and things may be crazy, we at least have this.  We have community.  We have music.  We have shared experiences.  We’re all doing this life thing together.

And as long as that’s the case, then, “…my heart is not weary.  It's light and it's free. I got nothin' but affection for them who sail with me."

Thanks to all of you for sailing with me.

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