The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Saturday, May 14, 2011
Music ... Personal Reflections ...

Yesterday I had the Friday the Thirteenth blues. Nothing all that bad, really. I didn’t see the doctor for test results, I didn’t lose $10,000, I didn’t lose my job (I hope), I didn’t get a thick envelope in the mail from a lawyer, and no one I knew got hurt. So yeah, I should count my blessings. But it was still a frustrating day. As the morning dragged on at work, a bunch of things that should have been settled days, weeks or months ago came back unsettled. The trend continued throughout the afternoon. More e-mails, more phone calls, more visits from co-workers. I tried to settle what I could, but the wave was too big; I left around 5 with a huge to-do list for next week. And in the midst of all this, it occurred to me that I’ll never have a romantic relationship again, as the fires and passions that ruled my youth have cooled far too much. I could never go thru the craziness of it all again.

I felt a bit better in the evening, sitting with my brother in a local bar-restaurant with a Guinness Draft under my chin. But then he got into the weekly review of the situation with his girlfriend, and it sounded pretty much like the report from last week; and the week before that, and the month before that, and . . . Well, let’s just say that they are caught in a loop . . . can’t live with you and can’t live without you. (Hmmm, maybe it ain’t so bad about my own fires having cooled . . .)

OK, it’s a little more complex than that – i.e., can’t live with your kids, whom you can’t live without, and who can’t seem to live without you, despite being in their mid-20s. I asked the usual questions: any progress with the four of you, any new trends, any breakthroughs or resolutions . . . but no, the whole story just kept on repeating itself. Given that my brother was paying, I was obliged to listen. And all right, even if he wasn’t paying, as his brother I should listen. Actually, I’m glad to be of comfort to him. But after that day of repeated frustrations at work, it was sad to see him going thru the same kind of thing that almost brought me to tears.

I’m a Zen meditator and a believer in God, along with being a half-ass philosopher and indulger in self-analysis to boot. And yet, none of those things seemed to help me yesterday. None of them could overcome my Friday the Thirteenth blues and mop up my narcissistic depression. The Zen in my life was gone, God seemed far away, the situation couldn’t be psycho-analyzed and the consolation of philosophy was nowhere to be found. There was only one thing left, one thing that finally did pull me through. It was music. There was a song buzzing around in my head, a new song that the local radio stations started playing a few days ago. Of all bands, it was by the Cars – yes, the Cars were somehow dug up from the detritus of the mid-1980s, like a woolly mammoth trapped under miles of ice. The song in question has a simple title: Sad Song.

So I went on-line and fired up the official video on You Tube (in violation of company policy, but I was desperate for relief). Somehow it got me through the afternoon stretch without crying, and kept me going thru the evening. Here are some of the lyrics that pulled me thru:

Too many eyes
Looking for hope
Too many tears
Looking for a way to cope — It’s no joke

Too many thoughts
Breaking your stride
Too many jekylls
Feeling like a mr. hyde

Too many clouds
Darken your day
Too many rain drops
Falling on your thunder bay

Too many heartaches
Waiting to strike
Too many clowns
Saying everything’s all right

Too many fires
Scorching your mind
Too many preachers
Saying what you should find

Well yes, that represents MOST of the lyrics from “Sad Song”. But they are SO good. They were just what the doctor ordered for my Friday the Thirteenth blues. They made me chuckle, just as Cars lyrics always did (e.g., “germanium lover, I’m live on your wire; come and take me, whoever you are”, from The Dangerous Type). The Cars still have that off-tempo wit and an off-beat sound formula based around Rick Ocasek’s strange voice, which got them noticed back in my innocent days of youth (well, young adulthood, anyway). I feel much better today.

One afterthought – Sad Song made me happy again; but in a way, there’s a higher-level melancholy to it all. The Cars never sang sad songs back in the 80s; their hits were about weird relationships (remember “My Best Friends Girlfriend” and “Just What I Needed” and “CandyO”) and good times (recall “Let’s Go” and “Good Times Role” and “Shake It Up”). But now, the people who would remember them and buy their CD’s and downloads are getting old, just like me. Melancholy is becoming a growing part of our lives. The brooding chord at the end of “Sad Song” pretty much sums up our future prospects these days.

Oh well. I’m still glad that Rick Ocasek and his old cronies were there for me on Friday afternoon. Even if the future isn’t as bright as it seemed back when the Cars were always on the radio, even if the passion from those days is gone, music got deep into the mis-firing crevices of my brain yesterday and smoothed things out. So what if there’s no more passion; so long as the Cars are still around, it can’t be all bad!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 6:18 pm      

  1. Jim, once again you have put some of my thoughts into such eloquent prose. But what really is romance? And what is a romantic relationship? And is there not something a little beyond this narrow dimension, this small square box, which we have been sold in our youth, perhaps another paradigm altogether, of the notion of love and relationship? But yes, so long as the Cars are still around, it can’t be all bad! (And Music, where would we be without it?)

    Comment by spunkykitty — May 16, 2011 @ 2:11 am

  2. Jim, I have long known that there are a great many people in the world who somehow find that their own life is not so bad by looking at those whose lives are worse than theirs. (My father, for one, used to say: If you think you’ve got it bad, take a walk down the corridor of a hospital.) I don’t know where I’ve missed the boat, but I never related to that aspect of things in my father. I’ve always found that hearing about others’ problems and sadnesses only makes my own burdens worse. So listening to sad songs or finding others who have worse problems only makes things worse for me. I have found myself to be odd man out on that basis since I was a young girl.

    I have, however, found that often a good night’s sleep or the next day arriving (however one wants to put it) often gives one a different perspective on one’s life.

    I have also found (as you have) that music can bring one out othe doldrums. There was a period of time in my life when (older than you) Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” could take my mind off things–but then sometimes I wonder if it was not just the loudness of the music that blew everything else out of my brain. I still wonder about that when I hear music played extremely loudly: Is it just a way to blow everything in the brain out, so one gets comfort from not being able to think about anything?

    As to realizing that romance will never be a part of your life again: That tho’t does not necessarily mean that love cannot be a part of your life any more. Romance is nice, but that’s about all one can say about it. In a relationship it lasts, tops a year to 18 months, then it’s down to what real love is all about. So, I say looking for romantic love might be a nice nostalgic trip, but that’s about all it is–a nostalgic trip. When/if you love someone again, you will find that romance may be the lesser part of what real love is all about: Having another person in one’s life, exchanging the positive energy of having that person in one’s life, sharing the burdens and good parts of life with the other. And this last goes both ways–having another share the good and bad of one’s own life.

    And if I may boldly repeat the advice on marriage I once heard from a very good psychologist: She said, don’t interfere in the marriage (or committed relationship) of 2 other people. They may have a relationship based on neurotic tendencies in the both of them; but if you interfere and breakdown that realationship, you better have something to substitute for them or you risk destroying a relationship that works for those individuals. It may not be the kind of relationship *you* want, but you are not they; don’t break down something that you cannot make better for others. Over my lifetime I’ve often tho’t about what she said, and I’ve seen a lot of people with their own peculiar ways of relating to the other. What works for those individuals seems to be what’s best for them. All others should simply stay out of what is not for them to interfere with.

    Perhaps the best thing you can do for your brother is listen. Very few people know how to listen without offering advice. (And I realize I’m breaking this rule here myself; but let’s say I’m just passing on a piece of information.) The most loving thing you can do for your brother is simply listen to him with your whole attention; he will love you for that, and you will help your own relationship with your brother in ways you may not know, just by listening attentitively with the love have for your brother. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — May 16, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  3. You still have a very useful blog I have been previously here looking at for about one hour. I am a beginner as well as your accomplishment
    is incredibly considerably an motivation for me

    Comment by Minnie — September 8, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

  4. Thank you.

    Comment by Jim G — September 11, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

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