Put on your red shoes and dance the blues…
Yeah, it’s been an emotional day for me. This will be a bit disjointed as I hit a few different thoughts, but after the news this morning the list of things to talk about grew.
Granted the first thing is one of the biggest. I am sure you heard about the loss of David Bowie. How did it affect you? Me? I’m fine. I swear I am. Not really. I have spent a good part of the day reading tributes and listening to music. What else can you do?
For the most part, none of us really knew him, but he was still part of our lives. And sure, we hear of deaths all the time. It is a part of life. But sometimes there are those who we might never have met but they were still a big part of our lives, they touched us and had an impact…
The first for me was Jim Henson. I was in Okinawa for the first time. I remember the sun and the ocean air, the barracks I was in at the time were less than a block from the ocean. I saw it in the paper and read it on the way home from the chow hall several times before I arrived back at the barracks. It was the first time the death of someone I didn’t know personally brought me to tears. but this was Jim Henson. Kermit the frog died that day. I know right, crazy… The world felt a bit darker right then, even in the bright light of an Okinawan summer.
And then today, I saw the feeds first, people professing loss. And then I saw the news… For a little bit there the world crashed around me. I forgot everything else that I had intended for the day. As I sit here, even now listening to all his music on my computer, I am at a loss. How do you talk about something, someone who had a huge impact on your life but you never had actually met them? The music has been a part of my life for pretty much all of my life.
And all I have right now are tears. Tears and pain for the loss of someone who spoke to me through music, through the stories he told in song.
And I realize that some of what I had thought last night is in keeping with the sense of loss and the feelings of familiarity we have from those who touch our lives through their life and art. You wouldn’t think I could do it but I spent a bit of time last night thinking of a follow up thought on the Amanda Palmer book “The Art of Asking.”
I finished the book last night. It was the middle of the night and I had taken to the bath to soak my leg and hip for the night. See, I have hit a moment where my sciatic nerve has decided to act up again. This entails several sleepless nights as I can’t get comfortable enough to sleep like a normal person. Pain and discomfort for the simplest things like oh, standing up or sitting down. (sorry there is a point in here somewhere, This isn’t all just my tears at death and pain). But I finished the book. And realized that there was some more to talk about.
I remembered the hullabaloo she caused after the Boston Marathon bombing. And I remember the bombing itself. No, I wasn’t there, but my brother in law had been there for his chance to run one of the most prominent races in the country. My sister had been there at the finish line less than fifteen minutes before the bomb that caused so much pain and misery had gone off. She and her husband missed a bad scene but only by narrow margins. That day could have ended so much worse for my family.
I don’t say this to take away the pain that anyone else still suffers from that madness. Instead, I bring it up to talk about how events like this affect all of our lives. We are connected without realizing it to shared experiences. This tragedy hit all of us at different levels. Reading through Amanda’s thoughts and pain from the incident brought to my mind how close we really are. Without knowing each other on a personal level, we have shared life in many ways.
I spent quite a bit of the last half of the book fighting back tears. The open and raw emotional experience of knowing not necessarily the exact situations but the moments in time and the feelings they gave us, the book was cathartic.
And this is where we hit a full circle moment. When I read my first Neil Gaiman book I had been in a similar situation to where I am right now. In pain, unable to walk around freely without discomfort. I had been in a motorcycle accident that put me out of work for a month. I couldn’t walk because my big toe was broken. (that may not sound like much but you probably don’t realize how much you rely on that toe for stability when you stand.)
The book I read then was Stardust. I had loved the movie. The book isn’t the movie. It has its own story and the movie sort of follows the patterns. But as you might expect, there is so much more to the book.
And this is a web of oddness that is all some how related in various ways. Amanda’s book goes through her and Neil’s courtship and eventual marriage and then learning to be partners in marriage. I was introduced to Neil again as I became enmeshed in Amanda’s life and discovered all the places that her life and mine touched, metaphorically speaking.
Back when I read that first book from Neil and then reading Amanda’s book now, I find that I was at turning points in my life. Every now and then we find ourselves at crossroads, we may not see it at the time but we see it in hindsight. But the crossroads are there, and our choices will be the path we follow from that moment on.
We carry the moments with us down the paths we travel, for good or bad. We carry the things that have touched our lives, touched our hearts. And in the process we find the next destination, and the next people that will carry us forward. Even if we never meet them in the flesh, we can always see that moment in time where someone else changed our lives in profound ways.
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