Start Again



Here come the muddled masses.

I speak to you now, from my olive grove in the absence of nothingness. We all fall. We all seek to rise again. Even in our most desperate moments, we know it is possible. We know we can rise again. Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can imagine.

And it can be that simple.

Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like... home

I hear you. The deck has been stacked against you. Nothing is what it was supposed to be. This fell through and that didn't turn out right. The weight gets heavier with each passing day. Distress. Depression. You've lost the ability to believe that you have the strength to rise against the tide any longer.

Let me confess something to you. I know where the danger is. I know where I can go that will lead me down a road that will all but destroy me. I go down that road. When it comes to life, the safe road just doesn't mean anything to me any longer. It would be easy to coast, but I must confront all my demons and stare them down. I must destroy myself again and again. If you pay attention my life is a living parable of how to survive. It is why I write and post it here. I've never met a demon I couldn't stare down, although some have sapped the very life out of me and left me grovelling in the dirt.

When you call my name
It's like a little prayer
I'm down on my knees
I want to take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I'll take you there

There once was a girl who dared to believe. She grew up in an orphanage and once she turned eighteen and was about to be turned out, she learned to cook and took responsibility for preparing meals for the orphans she had grown up around. And when the time came, she hit the road, headed east and ended up in Orlando, Florida where she hoped something would happen to make her life feel more special since it had never felt special before. She took to waiting tables, and despite her inherent clumsiness, her inability to keep a tray filled with food and glasses from tipping over, she got better tips than any other waitress in the church where she worked. She met a man once. She thought he was rather special, even though he knew he was rather ordinary. She wanted to matter to him, but his attention was fixated elsewhere. He had come to this place to follow a dream and she wanted to be part of that dream. She grew to feel empty at his lack of attention and affection, but she never really understood. Years later she would become his muse, his inspiration and his reason for going on. Things are funny that way.

I hear your voice
It's like an angel sighing
I have no choice
I hear your voice
Feels like flying
I close my eyes
Oh God, I think I'm falling
Out of the sky
I close my eyes
Heaven help me

I remember a lesson I taught myself some years back. It was in one of those moments where I tried to interpret everything in my life as making some kind of linear sense. You know, this happened with this person, so this will happen next, and then we will do this, and then make plans to do that and then go through with those plans, which will lead to the next step. This kind of thinking is our eventual undoing because it fails to take into accout two things. The first is that no matter what, change is inevitable and will impact the linear progression in ways you cannot control. The second is that people are not computer programs. They do not always react as expected and follow perceived directions. There is a simplistic kind of thinking, which is also responsible for the "nice guys finish last" mentality, where we are led to believe that doing certain things leads to deserved rewards in a weird, Pavlovian way. Just because you put more effort into your science project than anyone else doesn't mean you win first prize. Just because you did everything right at your job doesn't mean you get the promotion. Just because you were a really nice guy and did all the things the dating manual teaches you to do doesn't mean you live happily ever after. There are always factors external to you that will impact everything that happens around you. And you cannot possibly calculate all the factors in because most of them are highly subjective relative to persons other than yourself.

Like a child
You whisper softly to me
You're in control
Just like a child
Now I'm dancing
It's like a dream
No end and no beginning
You're here with me
It's like a dream
Let the choir sing

There was this beautiful woman who once danced on a log while singing this song to me. She had quite the singing voice, and this is one of the things I most remember about her. We were very good friends and it never went beyond that. On purpose. She wanted something from me, from being with me, and to give something in return, from being with her, that would transcend anything we would have gotten from wrapping our legs around each other and making each other cry. The day we finished a bottle of wine and she climbed up on that log and danced and sang this song, I laughed so hard I think my heart may have stopped. And then we hugged for the better part of the next hour.

Just like a prayer
Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me
You are a mystery
Just like a dream
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer
No choice your voice can take me there

We lost contact not long after that, although she was my date for two of my cousins' weddings. "We're not dating, I just like going to weddings," she told my family. A lot of things were happening all at once. She came to my farewell party before I left for Florida. We did not have much time to speak. She was entertaining a friend she had brought along, a lost soul of a young man who was falling into a deep spiral and a loss of control connected to his drug habit. She was trying to turn him around and failing miserably, and it didn't help that there were always quite a few dealers at my parties in those days. Her last words, I remember well, as she left that night were, "You've inspired us and you'll never understand why." It was the first and only time she ever kissed me. She was losing a good friend she had been close to since childhood and I had just lost someone who I would later come to realize I had meant something more to than I thought I did.

Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like... home

Home is where I belong at any given time. Sometimes change is necessary. Sometimes I must open my arms to timeless joy, such as the afternoon I watched Margaret dance on the log and sing to me. At other times I must confront demons and deal with the fears and turmoil left unresolved. It is all part of how I greet life, not as a road towards stability and security, but as a way to balance the soul and seek that very difficult peace we all usually try to convince ourselves we've already found. There is always something else. There is always something left to confront, face and triumph over.

No end and no beginning

There are many people from the history of my life I have completely lost contact with and have no idea of how to find again. I share very special memories with some of them and it is probably better we do not muddy those memories by trying to relive them together. Margaret could never dance on that log and sing Like a Prayer again without looking like a complete idiot and she knows that. It was all in the moment.

And life, at its best, is a collection of these moments.


For e-lainey

Lyrics copyright WB Music Corp/Bleu Disque Music Co. Inc./Webo Girl Publishing, Inc.
Written by Madonna and Patrick Leonard
Used within reasonable fair use standards

Rock on, ancient queens of my mythology
Thank you for filling my deck with beauty, elusive beauty

I have had a much better life than someone like me deserves to have had

Per Chras4, the "answer" to Margaret's statement is "You believe in you."

The writeup above continues to enhance my legacy of embracing heresy.