Sunday, October 22, 2006

At My Window

A family I am very close to is letting go a loved one. As the time ticks and I type, he is sleeping further away, sailing into the blue night, going wherever it is we go when it's over.

Death is a big important part of life. When my mother died I was going through a sort of spiritual death as well, and came through with a new perspective on my relationship to Self and to whatver God is. Late last year, my perspective widened again when I was introduced by my good friend My Boring Best to the work of author and scientist Richard Dawkins. The encouragement to explore the world in a manner more scientific was a huge challenge to all the work I had accomplished a few years before, but I could not turn away from Dawkin's message in his book, Unweaving the Rainbow.

My Boring Best recently posted a YouTube video of an interview with Dawkins discussing his latest book, The God Delusion. The only thing I enjoy more than reading Dawkins is watching the passion and enthusiasm with which he so deftly discusses his perspective.

In times of confusion brought about by death, troubles, or relationship matters, I used to turn to God and "let go let God" routine. But the truth is that in matters of the human heart, I have an enormous responsibility. Regardless of whether in fact there may be some god influencing the patterns of my life, or, equally unlikely, the notion that the position of the planets at my birth somehow determine the people with whom I relate best and worst, ultimately I alone am responsible for the choies I make. Likewise, if I have the gift or challenge of a relationship of somekind, any kind, it is up to me to be a steward of that, for whatever reason it is in my life.

I think I am fortunate that I've learned that. Just a year or two ago, I would anguish over the whys and wherefors of human relationship. I don't know whether there is such a thing as karma. What I do know is that in thr course of the human life, I will encounter any number of people with whom I will be in relationship, and I bear some responsibility for the quality of that relationship. So do we all.

What burns me about religion is just that notion that it appears to be ok to love God but hate your gay, black, bisexual, Republican, Democrat, atheist, Jewish, hispanic, or Muslim neighbor. That's where the whole religion thing really loses steam in my view. A bunch of crap, in fact.

I prefer simply to take each day as a gift, each moment as an opportunity to put into it whatever I can. Sure, it's real hard sometimes. We all want understanding, to feel like we have some grasp on purpose in our lives. But we can have that without the delusion that our lives are driven by an invisible force some unfathomable distance from us. Therein lies the slightest abdication of responsibility, albeit small.

One of the things that challenges me is the abundance of beautiful Gospel music in the Bluegrass tradition. There are artists I really adore, like Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, who are dedicated to straight bluegrass as well as Gospel tunes, and their faith is real. Then there are artists like Townes Van Zandt, a songwriter of infinite talent who gave us the number below.

I'll always continue striving to understand my place in the world, but I won't dwell on it, or why things are what they are. I have to work at reminding myself as we all do that things ARE, and that is the gift to us. Life is an experience, not an audition for the afterlife.

Today was quiet and slow and full of meaning and emotion. I will miss my friend. His legacy is part of my present and I will have fond memories of him. But I have a lot of living and beauty and work left and am working hard at striking the right balance between the commitment of doing it all well and detachment of not doing it for my own satisfaction but to leave the world a better place. This song by Van Zandt, which I heard for the first time on a soon to be released Sugar Hill Retrospective I won at an auction at IBMA (to support the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky), just caught my attention and speaks to the moment in which we must sometimes look in on our lives differently, to make sure we are living in right action and intention.

My wish for you all this week is a brush with consciousness that takes you to a new place.

At My Window
by Townes Van Zandt

At my window
watching the sun go
hoping the stars know
it's time to shine

aloft on dark wings
soft as the sun streams
at days decline

Living is laughing
dying says nothing at all
baby and I are lyin' here
watching the evening fall

Time flows
through brave beginnings
and she leaves her endings
beneath our feet

walk lightly
upon their faces
leave gentle traces
upon their sleep

Living is dancing
dying does nothing at all
baby and I are laying here
watching the evening fall

Three dimes
hard luck and good times
fast lines and low rhymes
ain't much to say

Feel fine
feel low and lazy
feel grey and hazy
feel far away

Living is sighing
dying ain't flying so high
baby and I are lying here
watching the day go by


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