You and I and moonlight

You and I and moonlight

Whenever we watch “The Simpsons,” we’re always happily amazed by the convoluted plots they’re able to squeeze into an episode. How they can start at scene one with, say, Lisa getting a pet goldfish and end up 23 minutes later deep in a story about an opera performance that will save the town of Springfield from space aliens who won the Earth in a game of poker. How do they do it?

But isn’t that just like life? If you let yourself move from moment to moment, you just never know where you’ll end up. The path between two points is rarely a straight line.

Like today, when I woke up with a song from “Hamilton” in my head (as I tend to do most days), and I thought it was inevitable that I’d be writing about one of those songs here.

A few hours later I found a link I’d emailed myself a year ago, a song by Leon Bridges that I’d wanted to remember (and promptly forgot). I played it and it blew my mind all over again, how much this young man reminded me of Sam Cooke. I swayed and nodded through his debut album all afternoon.

The fires cooled and dusk dropped over the hill and suddenly there was the moon climbing the maple tree. Lovely Leon was forgotten. Ella Fitzgerald can do that to anyone.

I swear I had a point I wanted to make here, but I’m tired and moon dazzled and we’ve traveled far since this morning. The thread of my day is in knots, but it’s nothing that can’t be untangled by a lullaby and a gentle night’s sleep.

Scatting my way through the mess

Mess

I won’t lie. It’s been a hard, messy month.

You might have noticed that I’ve been posting a lot of pictures lately instead of writing a lot of words. I was feeling guilty about that…until I thought about it on today’s walk and remembered how much work each of those pictures takes. For every picture I feel good enough to post, I take at least twenty (often more), then toss the ones that don’t work out. I click click click, and then end up throwing most of them away.

(Remember when you had to mail a roll of film to the processing center and wait for a week and then you’d get back ten pictures of the floor or your knee, five out-of-focus pictures of your dog, slightly obscured by one of your fingers, two completely black pictures, and and seven half-way decent pictures of things you actually meant to take — if you were lucky? Digital camera, I love you.)

November blues

Okay, so some days the words just don’t come, and writing here is supposed to be fun.

So why do I feel guilty?

Maybe I’m just made that way. Somehow, no matter what’s going on, I have that prickly feeling at the back of my neck that I’m letting someone down, forgetting something important, disappointing someone. Where does that come from? Does everyone feel like this? I think a lot of us do.

But that’s no way to live. Always worrying about messing up, ruining things. In my saner moments, I realize I’m making things harder than they ought to be. So what if I mess up?

What’s the worst thing that can happen?

I read this today, about falling off the “grid” and trying to strike a balance in a world where everything is coming at you faster than you can blink. I nodded with agreement as I read:

The grid wobbles. Or maybe my life wobbles. Either way, as I try to navigate between online work, offline work, and that obtuse thing we call “real life” I’m more and more convinced that “balance” is a really deceptive way to describe this dance we do.

It doesn’t feel balanced. It almost never does. It feels like a drunken ride on the mechanical bull where we’re really just trying to hang on for eight seconds and not puke.

Okay. Let’s grant that. It’s a rough, bumpy ride, and a lot of the time we feel out of control. That’s never going to change, right?

Maybe we’re trying so hard to get it all right, to not let anyone down, that we just become a frazzled mess of wrong and sad. We’re dashing so quickly around that tree, chasing after “perfect” or “better”, that we turn into butter.

Maybe… wouldn’t it be better to take some of it a little less seriously? To have a little faith that things will work out okay? To drop your shoulders down from your ears where they’ve been clenched to ward off the imaginary blows and the cold November winds?

To imagine that you’re doing it right, no matter how you’re doing it?

I love this version of Ella Fitzgerald singing “Mack The Knife” on her 1960 Ella in Berlin album. Listen to what happens at about 1:40.

Let’s make a pact. Let’s make a brilliant wreck of it all.

Let’s do what Ella does: hang loose, follow the swinging beat, keep a sense of humor.

Improvise, make up the words. And when you run out of words, scat, scat, scat.

Sing.