Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do you have a song of your own?

posted by Melissa
"Inspiration, move me brightly.  Light the song with sense and color;
Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.
Faced with mysteries dark and vast, statements just seem vain at last."
Lyrics from the Grateful Dead song,"Terrapin Station", written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.

Just leave me here, with my school books,
perfect balance.
These are lines that are easy to remember.  A song that once moved me to tears, that I must have listened to hundreds of times, singing along as if it had been written for me.  It comes to mind as I sit down today to blog because I feel so inspired since reading Amy's post yesterday.

I too, often struggle with the question of combining "who we want to be, with who we are, with who we ought to be, with who we find it just acceptable to be" as Amy put it.  It seems these days I have gone from being a dull form of acceptable, also in a vapid job; to a colorful mixture of who I should be and who I want to be.  I am closer to "conforming" with society than ever before.  And that, at once excites me, and scares the hell out of me.

It doesn't  does help that I also watched an compelling documentary the other night.  It was our neighbor Pete's last night in town, he was heading out the next day on the great adventure, called his life.  He, like Jamie and I, set out to hitchhike and see where the road would take him.  I think he is planning on living in a tree in Oregon, but the road is wide and inviting, and you never know where you'll end up.

So, it was Pete's last night and he and Jamie and I sat down to watch a movie together.  After flipping through Netflix, I found Surfwise.  Perfect.  It is the story of the Paskowitz family, led by Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz.  In the 1950's, he left his life and practice as a physician behind, and surfed.  That's all he did.  He met his wife and together they had 9 kids.  All 11 of them lived in a 25 ft' camper, and traveled from town to town, surfing.  The kids never went to school, they only surfed.

It left me pondering lots of questions, like the ones I touched on earlier.  Yes, Amy, you're right, who do I want to be?  And further why do I do the things I do?  Is it for others?  For myself?  How much does it matter what others think about the way you live or who you choose to be?  What if those others are your family?  Does that change your answer?  Why do I simultaneously want to go to nursing school and get straight A's and travel the road, live on the beach and surf all day long?

The last two parts of Amy's post really brought it all together for me in a transparent, unambiguous language.  I do want to become a nurse, to learn everything I can about the body and practice that learning everyday.  Indeed, that is how even the most "talented" athletes or musicians get to where they are, through dedication and rote practice.  There is something very simple and satisfying about that.

But it can get old, and stifling.  To think of sitting at a desk every day, poring over books and diagrams of body parts.  That's where the longing for the road and the beach comes in.  That's why after a day of studying, the Paskowitz life seemed so appealing.  Well, except for the sex every night, and maybe the family emblem of a clean asshole.  But, my point is, we need balance.

I know, so cliché.  But today, cliché assumed the form original.  It hit me like some of those Grateful Dead songs did when I first heard them.  Leaving me floating off, wholly inspired.

I need to bring the balance of work and play into my, fill it with what Amy called "exponential reciprocity" and do it all from my heart.  My dream.  Sing my song.

Here's the end of the last song Jerry Garcia sang, "Black Muddy River", at Soldier Field in Chicago, summer 1995.

"I will walk alone, by the black muddy river,
And dream me a dream of my own,
I will walk alone, by the black muddy river,
And sing me a song of my own, sing me a song of my own."

With a full heart (and lots of memorizing to do),

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