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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

I Feel Good — You Should Too

The world is a wonderful place. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes, and the fellow weaving in the next lane jabbering into his cell phone while eating a submarine sandwich and occasionally nosemining can distract us, no doubt. Many things intrude. But sometimes, if you’re available for wonderment, you can have a moment of clarity.

On the ocean is a place for moments of clarity. You cannot be in a motorized anything, unless the motor is turned off, because you’re just a commuter if the engine is running. Sailing’s better; contemplative.

You can’t sail like the kind of people who always want to tug on the lines to get an additional half a knot out of their breeze bucket. You need the kind of sailing where you set the sails, and fix your course to nowhere to allow the fewest interruptions, and lay your leg over the tiller, trail your hand in the water, and consider your situation. Coronas with limes never hurt either.

You have nowhere to go, and nowhere to be, and after the second time you take them, your sailing companions must lose the urge to talk about the process of sailing in an enthusiastic fashion and simply enjoy it, and the company. And with the sky arrayed overhead, and the sea below, you are content to examine the world dispassionately. And the beauty and simplicity of the clouds that drift, the terns that swoop, the wavelets that tap their gentle knuckles on the windward side, the feeling of motion snatched without struggle from the endless breezes that massage your cheek and sail alike allow you to enjoy the world and all its wonders, and everybody in it, if just for a moment.

That’s a complicated and unusual apparatus to distill the elixir of life, ain’t it? We need to find ways, every day, to get the simple flavor of the sublime, in an esspresso dose — short, fast, concentrated; ephemeral but available.

Two minutes of pop music can do it for you. It has to be good. It can’t be serious. Serious pop music is an oxymoron. You’re not saving the world, Bono, you’re just a preening middle aged man in a ridiculous getup who’s first job is to entertain, but you never got around to learning how. I’ll raise my hand when you’re Woody Guthrie. Don’t hold your breath. On second thought — do.

My bad. We’re filled with love for our fellow man today. Our fellow Irishman too, last paragraph notwithstanding. Maybe’s he’s trying hard but failing. I’ll leave him be. You too, if he makes you smile.

It’s not supposed to sound like you’re trying hard, even if you are. Try hard in rehearsal. It’s generally best when it’s a melody that sounds about fine whether played by a chamber orchestra, a busker, or a chicken pecking it out on a toy piano. The lyric is generally best about as complex as a nursery rhyme, a little obscure maybe, but with a hint of the recognition of the sublime percolating in the background, and hints of the whole daft fabric of shared human experience like a breeze blowing over your face.

It should be over in one minute fity eight seconds, and comprise one third of your quarter’s worth of selections in DiMeglio’s Pizza’s jukebox in 1968, too.

4 Responses

  1. What a fun little burst of, um…fun!

    I love love love the background dancing. Why does it look so stupid when the Backstreet Boys do it?

  2. Good choice, that. Gandhi had once remarked that “there is more to life than increasing its speed”. But opportunities for reflection unencumbered by electronic intrusion are an increasing rarity. It’s as if we’ve become a new species of shark, afraid we might drown should we but pause. And having also inherited my mother’s and her father’s “be useful” gene, such sitting still causes me to see the dirt, and then to clean it up. Maybe I’ll have time to think when I’m dead.

    My musical stress solvents:
    Harold Budd & Brian Eno:
    First Light (on Ambient 2)
    John Denver (yes, him): Late Winter, Early Spring (instrumental on Rocky Mountain High)
    The Innocence Mission: Lakes of Canada
    Neil Young: Thrasher (on Rust Never Sleeps)

    Most really sublime pieces make me think that a small part of the divine has been touched. Or, rather, could heaven be heaven without the Temptations?

  3. jennifer- It is fun, isn’t it? The dancers are trying to project an image of urbanity, and sophistication. Cole Porter trumps Fifty Cent.

    Pogo- I thought I was the only person who liked eno, only with fripp. I go back to Roxy Music and Talking Heads days with eno. Eno is a very influential musician, but not widely known, I think.

    Happy happy joy joy today, despite the hard rain.

  4. Ah, yes, Fripp & Eno in Evening Star, or Eno & Cluster in Old Land or After the Heat.

    The music of my college years that my family forbids me to listen to, the music I never ever share with anyone because I know they’ll hate it. But I find it beautiful. So on long drives, just me, there it is, an old friend. The venerable sound of machines.

    Once I was driving to Appleton, Wisconsin, scuttling across the radio band, hoping for something good, when I came across a great droning electric sound that varied ever so subtly. After 20 minutes, I figured out I was tuned into my car engine’s effect on white noise.

    But I kept listening.

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