Saturday, February 1, 2014

Amazing Grace

This has been a good thirty days or so.   Much of it defies any explanation I'd attempt here, but then some things go beyond words anyway.

I often find myself doing things I would not have predicted.  Like the time I played for that Easter service for the Lutherans; the one where they cut the lights and slam the book so hard it made me jump.

Then today, at the request of K and L I played a memorial service for an allegedly dead person I never met.  I say "allegedly" because I never saw her, dead or alive.  All they had were ashes in a box.  Not to make light of the situation.  But for all I know the whole thing could have been staged, and all but a few of the people could have been actors.  I'd met maybe two or three of the attendees, besides K and L.

Different people spoke about the deceased.  She was a couple of years younger than I am.  Liver or kidney issue did her in.  After hearing the people tell their stories, I felt like I knew her, or had a sense of her.

I felt sad and happy, at the same time, for her husband.  She was clearly the love of his life; his second wife, I believe.  Sad for his loss, but a little envious that he had 25 years with someone he was crazy about.  It seems he has enough friends and family to carry him through right now.

I'd like to spend dozens of years being that fond of someone.  I'm beginning to believe I may have that in me.  For awhile there I was thinking it wasn't possible.

So at the early part of this thing, K--guitar and vocal, L-vocals, and me with trusty harmonica and a little backup harmony/vocal did a song.  A semi-Jesus sort of thing.  It may be one that Patsy Kline sang back in her day.  L really does it well.  I played a couple of instrumentals on it.  The trick is to play a different one each time, even though I'm just echoing the melody on both go rounds.

At the end of the memorial, after everyone spoke and the holy man rambled on quoting Paul, in what seemed to me a pleasant, but nonsensical, incoherent little sermon,  K and L sang Amazing Grace, with me playing subtle harp backup.  Part of it was a kind of version I had not heard before.  But it was great for playing background--nice dynamics.  Then at the end I played it one time through solo.  I like playing that song.  L said she saw some tears from it.

You never know, but I do hope to get to their hearts at times like that.  Plus K took that tune to heaven, with L harmonizing.  When they do that, it is a great feeling to be there accompanying them.  I see why people are always asking them to sing at their funerals.  It has happened.  People say, "promise you'll sing at my funeral when it is my time", then the people kick the bucket a couple of weeks later.  Spooky

I make it a point not to discuss having them sing for my last dead party. No no.  That's like asking for it, and I have  couple of things I'd like to do before hitting the road.    Now that I played with them at  a post mortem event, I wonder if that makes me an apprentice angel of death?  I accused K of being the Angel of Death due to people cashing in their chips, so to speak, shortly after requesting he sing at their memorials.

K and L asked me to do this.  That is why I did it, and they are the kind of friends that their request is reason enough.  I trusted that it would be OK, and that maybe it would help bring something good to the people there who needed it.  People did seem grateful, and the surviving widower appeared to be particularly appreciative.  Normally  do not hang out in church or in mortuaries.  

I feel hypocritical in church because I do not adhere to certain basic tenets that mot of them promote.  And funeral parlors often involve death and grief, neither of which appeals to me all that much.

Most of the, approximately, seventy people went from the service to the guy's house for food and schmoozing.  At some point they gave everyone a helium balloon, and people wrote messages to dear departed Carrie, then on cue let them all go.

They rapidly floated on the stiff breeze out east over whatever mountain range that is east of San Marcos and Encinitas.   It was an unusually cloudy, misty day.  We're glad for the bit of rain in this dry place. I have no idea what ultimately happened to the balloons.  L was glad they didn't go west because she worried they'd kill dolphins or do something to fish.  I don't know.

Maybe they spooked some coyotes.  Coyotes are not your friends.  They aren't like dogs or even wolves.  You can't ever consider one a trusted friend.

Not knowing Carrie, I didn't know what message to send her, so I just said I hope she liked the harp.  That's cool guy slang for harmonica.  She doesn't know me so she won't know I'm not that cool.

Before we let the balloons go, we were all out back by the pool, and her mother got the whole crowd singing that song, "He's got the whole world in his hands".  That woman has rhythm and it was quite a thing.  It seemed very SoCal, in a way, but the best of Southern California.  I've never done anything like it.

The first time I played Amazing Grace was at a large gathering in Miami about 1990 or 1989.  It was at night outside a place where people often found redemption, I guess.  Not a church.  Just a bunch of gad-abouts and ne'er do wells like myself.  The Sunset crowd.

Anyway, that time when I played it, I took more liberties and put my whole soul into it.  They got it.  It had a lot of meaning then, and now. But especially back then.   couple of people said it gave them chills, and it was one of those experiences never to be duplicated.  That night was a big deal in my long term battle to survive.  I feel like that spark has been rekindled lately.  Not that the flame of that time went out, but it was weak and flickering.

An unlikely, lovely person sort of held a mirror before me.  Figuratively of course.  Anyway, it left me thinking that maybe the nature of the way things have always worked for the good in my life wasn't just my imagination, and maybe I should quit trying to deny what is real for me.

Nothing in my life works just three dimensionally in a linear time frame.  It never has.  I always try to make it that way because that's what the "smart productive" people do.  Well, I do poorly like that.  In my world, there is more to life and all that is than meets the eye.  Take it or leave it or both.  I don't care.  When I forget that I have nothing to prove to anyone, I do not do that well.

When I just follow inner nature despite what any family member, Jon Stewart, or some guitar player, or less than loving love interest thinks, I tend to thrive, or show signs that I can thrive.  I've rarely let myself really thrive for any length of time.  Pretty dumb, but it is mine to learn.  Others have their own things to learn.  I'm usually too polite to point that out.

But I've never gone back to the darkest of dark times, even though I have explored some pretty dimly lit alleys.  I blame it on my compulsive heterosexuality, despite the erroneous nature of such excuse.  There's an element of truth.  But a false premise.  Delving into nincompoopery is a choice, and ultimately there is no getting around it.  Brain chemistry and all that may have influence, but it is rarely the whole story.  Once you know the truth, you can't blame the lies, or others for your self defeating choices.

So today was magic, and it was directly connected to once upon a time with the Sunset crowd, and an inexplicable, undeniable longing for sunny Florida.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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