Sunday, January 10, 2010

Banging on the Walls of Time

This is the kind of day I’ve known was coming. The rush of the holidays, the frenetic re-organizing to put everyone back on a schedule for work and school gives way at the first opportunity to the gentle unpacking of things hidden in the mind’s boxes.

This has been coming. Coming on for a while, perhaps. Little signs, like my surprising if slight disdain for the distinction of “Comedy” for “It’s Complicated,” the holiday movie that should make every happily single woman wonder.

Then there were other things, like a couple of friends who spotted a Top Ten Bluegrass Albums List for 2009 – this slipped by me like a greased pig. I was touched that they both mentioned it; Doc even took a minute to type it up and send it my way. (I don’t think he really needed the Bluegrass tutorial that followed but maybe he can pass it on to a banjo fan or something.)

Little things, like putting away the Christmas decorations to a bluegrass album and having to stop every few minutes, tune the mando, and sing along.

Little things, like pulling out a few old poems to send to a friend who is holding down the fort, making a last stand for a poet laureate of my hometown.

Little things, like how long its been since love came calling, or since I sent her out to play.

I opened my eyes this morning after a great show at The Kent Stage last night and the sun was bright. I slept much longer than usual since I stayed up past my bedtime watching videos of first-run Sondheim shows. In my mind I was already going back in time. Today I went back further and it knocked me on my ass for a while, but it was needed.

It’s been coming on.

I believe I spent the last year entirely engulfed in some sort of numbing state, under the spell of survival. I also got into a very comfortable place that put a lid on the amount of exploration I allowed myself in almost every area of my life. I blame this on a false preoccupation with many things, none of which is ever as important as nurturing the authentic self.

After today, I realize that the exploring I need to do is not necessarily the kind best shared. Some of it is about the path forward and what to bring along. I thought I was done unearthing all that in 2002 and 2003; it turns out I wasn’t finished.

All things in the perfect time, is what the Dalai Lama would say. It’s all perfect; things happen when they need to and because we’re ready. Even the bad stuff is “perfect”. Whatever we do, where ever we are at the moment, is what it is and therefore perfect in that way.

So I guess in that regard, today was a perfect day. It was the perfect day to acknowledge that I have a fireplace that goes unused and unshared too often. It was the perfect day to acknowledge that after spending the last several years pimping bluegrass, I have friends who now want to indulge and that I need to get my ass in gear to do that. It was the perfect day to acknowledge that I need to find a way to sing, long and loud and blue. It was the perfect day to retype up old poems and send them to a friend, acknowledging the process that went into those, the person I was then. Resurrecting the author.

So I guess I spent the better part of the day knocking on the Walls of Time. I am not one to look back; once it’s done, it’s done, and most of the time for good reason. But this was different; I peeked inside boxes I had not looked into in a long time, and it was purposeful. Rather than shuffling the boxes around to suit my routine, I opened them up, and pulled out the contents. That stuff has been in there since long before bluegrass stole and then broke my heart. Now it’s all together, out on my table, and I am piecing it together so that this year I can put forth the most complete person I can.

I’ve been in and out of my CD collection this weekend since I still haven’t settled on an appropriate dock system for my iPod. One of my favorites is the Pete Rowan/Tony Rice recording of a couple years ago, “Quartet.” Some small part of me is in love with Pete Rowan, his shadow and his beautiful unique voice, and his long love affair with the music. He formed his first bluegrass band in high school when he was thirteen. In the mid-1960s he played and sang with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. He’s the real deal with a side of Just Be Yourself, a traditional sideman with a side of groundbreaking for progressive bluegrass players.

This is probably my all time favorite Monroe era song, “Walls of Time.” As Rowan tells in this clip, he wrote it with Big Mon. Its mournful and almost seductive trail has that high lonesome sound imbued with a longing and desire that belies the roots of bluegrass, not as Sunday Jamboree playlist fodder but as the music of a people who lived and loved hard and long and were not easily torn apart. This is a wonderful rendition by Rowan supported by the unmatched Tony Rice.

If I recalled anything today, it’s that I come from those people. My family came off the boat from Cornwall and then crawled up from the tidewater of Virginia through the hills and mountains of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This was their music, and now it is mine. Maybe they’ll hear me through these walls of time, and help me as I try to reach back through time to make myself whole and useful and unapologetically loving in this world before I go.


At January 26, 2010 6:02 PM, Blogger Maggie said...

Your writing is lovely and so genuine. Thank you for sharing your musings and knocking on the walls and for the music... I do think it links us to our ancestors.

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