Sometimes you just come up empty
I’ve been sitting in this cafe for an hour. Came here after parking the car, attempting a little James Taylor transcription on the guitar, walking over to visit Nich at Phono Select, stopping by Body Tribe to visit Allyson Seconds’ dogs Lulu, who likes me, and Hank, who’s still too bashful to move into my zone, and then I left there and walked a block up 21st to the Weatherstone. Ordered a salad and and a mocha, sat down, pinched my flab and decided more exercise might be a good thing, and why not walk to McKinley Park for a couple laps around, then home. What the hey. No. I need to write something.
Because a writer needs to write, like a guitarist needs to practice his chops and a ballet dancer needs to dance. So here I go. The last few years have been years of subtraction: First my marriage, then work, then a bunch of material things, then some core ideas about myself, like someday I will record an album of my songs or someday I will find someone who is really compatible with me or, most importantly, someday my now-grown-up daughter will want to have even a half-hearted relationship with me. Life is short, I’m not sure what matters and what doesn’t matter anymore. I know what I want to matter, but sometimes the world at large has other ideas, and one must flow with the current.
This life I lead isn’t so lonely, really. I mean, I must have gained some kind of oneness with the Great Whatever from four years of daily Buddhist meditation, because I don’t feel acute pangs of neediness; it’s more like what the Brazilians and Portuguese call saudade, which I’ve heard described as the longing or yearning for the loving bliss of the past. But Buddhist practice, in part, enables a person to move beyond that hankering for a state in the past by repeatedly bringing the attention to the present. So that’s life for me: a seesaw ride that alternates between the present moment and recurring waves of saudade. I don’t live much in the future anymore; I’ve kind of let that go. I’ve even stopped dreaming. Well, almost.
I had the coolest dream last night. The first part of it I remember (there may have been a preceding part I can’t recall now), I was in a big auditorium with a bunch of people. I think it was an recovery-type meeting or something. I got tapped by someone to share my thoughts, and I began going on about how people in AA talk about how they “don’t do relationships well” and stuff, but that I question that position as kind of a self-imposed limitation. There were people around me who were ignoring me, and I was upset that they were not validating me. I may have had my guitar with me, and I was asking them to be quiet so I could speak my piece and maybe play something, but they engaged in loud conversation which drowned me out. So at some point, I went to a corner of the room, and there was a woman sitting on kind of some steps, and I grabbed my guitar case and, I dunno if I asked her to accompany me, but we left together. She was this very pretty dark-eyed woman who I know from this place I visit some mornings on my way to work. So then we were riding in a vehicle like the one I drive, but it was hers, or her family’s, and she was letting me drive; it had like a Hemi V8, and I remarked something about how it had a lot of power and I was really digging it. I found myself driving on kind of a limited-access highway out of town, and she asked me if that was the way I wanted to go, and I said no, it didn’t have to be, and soon there was a place where I could drive up a berm and get back onto a city street to head back toward town, and I did. At some point, I reached over and touched her hand, kind of ran my fingertips across her palm and fingers, and she reciprocated and looked at me affectionately, and it felt very nice (that was the extent of any physical contact in the dream). We pulled up at this 1920s bungalow where an old roommate was living, and we walked toward the narrow driveway between this house on the left and the house next door, and we were greeted by a big calico cat. Actually, two cats, one a female and one a more dog-like male (which I understand male calicos are rare) and I think they followed me back, with my lady friend following, too; she was quite amused by the cats. There were one or two kinda sketchy hippie or druggie guys I didn’t know in the back, by a garage, and it was a mid-morning spring-like sky just after a light rain, so there were like old hibachis and microwave ovens and other things stacked up all around, and they were dewy or damp from the fresh spring rain. One old hippie told me that someone — the government? aliens? — had changed the lock and that my key wouldn’t work, but when I looked at the back door into the house, it had one of those long-loop padlocks, and the padlock was open, just looped through the hasp on the door. And that’s where I woke up.
It was a pretty nice dream, really. Anyway, maybe I ought to post this and go walk to the park? —Jackson Griffith
Postscript: The music clips here are by my good friend Sport Murphy, who in my humble estimation is a brilliant songwriter whose music I wish I could gift to everyone I know, that some of thos friends might grow and throb with ardor for his music’s many charms, like I have.