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March 23, 2015

I find few things more enchanting or favorable than seeing a beautiful family or a long in love couple. I can feel the harmony radiating from their peaceful, contented hearts.

Just but a minute ago, a song came on my phone that felt like a sad, slow wave coming over me. I wanted to let it take me back, all the way to the pain and anguish of saying goodbye to her this past year. Only I didn’t; I chose not to simply by skipping to the next track.

Of the eight-thousand-odd-songs in my iTunes library, the top fifty played are surely the most melancholy and nostalgic I own. Whether these songs have been effective palliatives, damning up the tides of memory and assuaging the plague that has flooded my mind on its darkest days or whether they have merely the been the salt, mortar and pestle by which I have antagonized my own wounds and indulged in my own sufferings, I know not – but I see no difference in the two. For if it were possible to overdose on ones own sorrows, I would long ago have; I am a glutton: no one minds my pain as I do, I lay crippled to what others pay no mind to. Perhaps a broken heart is really a sort of suicide; perhaps the artist has no greater vice or adversary than his own pain, which minds not whether he seeks to soothe or revive it but only that he doesn’t forget it. For without his wounds, he might be whole and if whole he would not be forgotten any longer by those who don’t love him. Love me, the pain says. She doesn’t, the pain says. But she did, the pain says. His only answer to the sad slowness, being his pen strokes.

How many times I let that sad, slow wave come over me, heaven knows – but there have been entire days passed in a blanketed coma, my only other solace the pain inducing lyrics of songs I dare not quote or cite. There have been days like that. Heaven knows.

Only now, I’m thinking this life of mine needs a new soundtrack. One devoid of the songs whose notes sting like barbed hooks pulling my heart out through my ears, devoid of the songs that entomb me in a dead, cow-eyed sadness.

I return again to the wisdom of John Gardner; the idea from his tour de force, On Moral Fiction, that good art need be life enhancing – that art should seek to enhance life, rather than debase it – and in this light I ask myself whether listening to the proverbial Blues for thousands of hours as I have has done a damn thing to make my life better?

Maybe it was what I needed to get by. Maybe the change of seasons is bringing a new breeze in through my swollen ears to soothe my pickled and pricked heart. Maybe sad songs were the soundtrack of yesteryear. Either way, my music library is getting a spring cleaning tomorrow. No more sad songs.

No more looking to the beautiful family walking by as I listen to songs about needing, losing, wanting, having, hating, or loving love. I try and remind myself that there’s more to life than love as I write this, but who am I kidding; I might be somebody’s fool, but I’m not my own.

Only, I’d like to forget about love for a little bit. Maybe John Mayer was right when he sang, it’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees. Maybe love is my gravity. Maybe staying where the light is means not letting gravity pull me back. Maybe it’s listening to those songs that remind me I’ve got dreams. Maybe it’s reminding myself that my dreams are bigger than love. Maybe it’s swallowing the truth that all unborn dreams die a thousand deaths in the heart of the dreamer.

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