today is the first full day without little michael… throughout my own sadness and sense of loss i wondered how anna is doing; if she got up this morning and smiled at her new friend. if her day became just a little brighter… as bright as the rare proclamation of sun that shone on this northwest day.
and i knew that if i am going to work at healing and preventing relapses, i need to keep occupied, i need to be outside- in that sun.
so i did take up the opportunity to accept the invitation to go to the river. it’s been a number of years since i’ve been to the river (and even longer since i swam). a huge factor in me not going is indeed, fear. as much as i love water (and being in it) i hate people looking at me. i hate the way clothes stick to your body when you get out of the water, and people can see the outlines of what you look like. it’s too close to being nude to me. i don’t even like taking off my shoes, since i hate my feet. and then you have to roll up your trousers, and people can see your legs. i just don’t like people seeing any part of me, if i can help it.
i actually don’t get hot very often, living in this part of the country. being from new york (and having been to the south), the northwest just does not get hot. warm, yes. hot, no. not the kind of hot where, after you’ve taken a shower, you go outside and have to take another one. there’s no scorching heat mixed with 95% humidity. so yes, i still wear a sweater in this ‘summer’ climate, when most people are walking around in shorts complaining about the heat. you can attribute part of this to how i feel about my body. i would not deny that i have conditioned myself to live in the summer heat, covered up. the thing is though, i have always been ‘cold blooded’ for as long as i can remember.
when we got to the river site (i went with two others), there were many opportunities for me to have a relapse. the cliffs were steep and i must admit i thought about what it would be like to jump. i thought about what it would be like to be hit by a car at that moment. i’ve been hit by a car plenty of times in my life, but interestingly, never during a relapse.
i walked passed an opossum who was hit by a car (or few). her jaw was pulled back by the impact of the hit(s), and you saw the teeth and muscle. the eyes were concealed. there were a few flies fluttering about, happy to have some sort of work to do for the day. i stopped and said a few words for the opossum, then walked towards the river.
the river was already filled with people by the time we got there. children were playing; one girl in particular was captivated by the “live fish” she saw. she kept exclaiming how there was a live fish in the river. she continually tried to capture the moment by surrounding the fish with what looked like a small float. families floated by on air-filled rafts and tubes, lazily pushing themselves with paddles.
despite my self-conscious fear of going in the river, i decided to roll up my trousers, take off my boots and walk in. ‘how many opportunities do you get to go to the river?’ i asked myself. i took those initial steps in the freezing water, allowed the time in the water to acclimate to my own body temperature, and i watched the sand and small branches travel between my toes. i sat on a rock, read a book and watched the sun beam down on us all. i went back and forth between resting on a blanket on the sand, and returning to the water.
needless to say, it was something i needed. to be in the sun is good, since exposure to it increases levels of vitamin d. and an increase in vitamin d may mean less of the relapses.
upon our return to the ‘city’ we listened to songs on the radio. i don’t listen to the radio so i’m never aware of any latest trends or artists. what i did hear, indeed made me very sad. stylistically, everything was uniform. i suppose you could say this was the case with the influx of the beatles’ influence, or with disco. however, i would dis-agree with you… because all of the artists were indistinguishable. everyone lacked character, because their voices were shrouded in autotune. EVERY SINGLE SONG we heard was produced with autotune. there were many songs played, and yet the artists’ names or the songs were not announced. i suspect since the same 12 songs are played, there is no need to back announce. but for someone who is not familiar with this culture of music, it would be nice to know how these artists distinguish themselves from one another.
in terms of subject matter, it all came together, as to why everything was so uniform. so many of the songs spoke of armageddon as if it were a trend. ‘if i die young’; ‘let us dance until the world ends’; ‘i’m gonna party because tomorrow may never come’… after such a positive day in the river, hearing these words not only made me sad, but yet again triggered that internal sense of doom i’m already struggling to heal from. i felt frozen, unable to do anything about it; because i hadn’t openly spoken about what i’ve been dealing with to the people i was with.
the uniform cadences and the lack of human emotion in the voices were symbolic of some sort of mind control program. as the voices inform us to party away, our homes are being raided by police, and laws are being created without our consent or knowledge. this way, we’ll be ill-prepared to defend ourselves on our own terms, but well-equipped to utilize the materials they give us in which to ‘survive’. these voices condition us to, again, maintain a lack of sensitivity to the energy around us. we become desensitized to how we treat each other.
there were more songs played, honoring this new sense of nihilism: love songs describing a sensation which is supposed to comprise of joy, as one which is diseased, poisonous, vindictive, vengeful, non-committal, ‘alien’, forceful/violent, coercive, detached, objectifying, egotistical… and these were supposedly PRO-love songs. not ONCE did a song come on honoring love as respectful, positive or committed.
and of course, as all these songs emanated from the car speakers, those words you wrote/sang IMMEDIATELY came to mind:
Love ain’t what it used to be
That is what they’re tellin’ me
Push it in
Stick it out
That ain’t what it’s all about
Susie like to agitate
Get the boy and make him wait
Mother’s preaching Abraham
Brothers they don’t
Give a damn
He wanna do
Something freaky to you
He wanna wrap his arms
All around you girl
He wanna do it up
Get it hot
Deep in the night
He wanna eye ball
Playing it right
He wanna turn the key
Work the sheets
Move to the left
He wanna hot stuff
Making it wet
Sister say she love him some
Got his Jimmy on the run
Mother’s preaching Abraham
Brothers they don’t
Give a damn
Johnny’s begging pretty please
Keep the brother on his knees
Susie likes to agitate
Get the boy and make him wait
Sister’s married to a hood
Sayin’ that she got it good
Holy Mary mercy me
Can’t believe the things I see
it also brought to mind those songs you sang so many years ago as a child: those songs i thought you were entirely too young to sing; but still, they were songs which lent to a moral conviction.
When we played tag in grade school
You wanted to be it.
But chasing boys was just a fad
You crossed your heart you’d quit.
When we grew up you traded
Your promise for my ring
Now just like back to grade school
You’re doing the same old thing
They’ll ruin your reputation
They’ll label you a flirt
The way they talk about you
They’ll turn your name to dirt…
interestingly, those songs were primarily messages for girls to not sleep around, but you could also use the same message for boys.
i purposefully do not use the words ‘women’ and men’ because the art/music popularized today does not reflect an adult sensibility. we’ve lost sense of what community represents, and taking responsibility for each other. before you left you saw remnants of some of this; but after you left it was as if people forgot the teachings. we are discouraged from continuing the teachings, because we all expect one person to ‘lead’ us, forgetting that we are all here on this earth for a limited amount of time. it is not up to one person to ‘lead’. i mean, there was even a line in a kanye west song played (where the theme ironically was ‘lights’ but was far from speaking about LIGHT ENERGY) where he said “MJ is dead”. something to that effect.
it was as if the message in all of these songs was: ‘michael is dead. we can finally finish the job we intended to begin, but we couldn’t because he got in the way of it.’
and THIS is why i do not listen to the radio. and this is why i will continue to promote your art as teachings, outside of a superficial ‘pop’ realm. granted, some of the themes in your art are not necessarily kid-friendly (we can look to the lyrics above for that); however, you have proven yourself to be more than your lyrics. i can only hope the artists ‘singing’ those songs have proven themselves to be more as well…. so that little ones like anna can grow to live in a world where respect and community are not anomalies.