The mark of a great song is that no matter who hears it or who performs it, each person gets their own meaning from it. Sometimes that meaning isn’t at all what the songwriter had in mind when they wrote it, yet the song mystically forms itself to other people’s personal experiences.
When I need a little lift and to feel that everything is working toward a greater good, I nearly always turn to Home Again, which was written by John Batdorf and recorded back in 1972 with Mark Rodney on their eponymous album, “Batdorf & Rodney.”
Now, I won’t reveal to you the meaning this songs holds for me. Let’s just say that the “home” in the song is not a physical place and the feeling of joy at finding myself there is not one I’ve ever felt in any earthly location. But this song takes me “home” and allows me to taste that joy all the same.
I’ve listened to this song a lot this past week. You might even say it got me through some difficult moments as it took me to a place within where nothing bad happens and where no one can find me. Not many songs have that power, but then, this is a great song.
Although I’m a relic of the Sixties, I never felt comfortable with my fellow Flower Children’s symbolism concerning butterflies, rainbows, or blossoms. None of that was lost on me, I just found it rather trite and Disney girlish. But sometimes these things hit home. This morning it came to me that when a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, it does so, completely. It doesn’t pause to reflect, to ponder, to grieve, to philosophize, to regret, to understand, to blame, or to heal. It just opens up its wings and leaves. The butterfly just leaves that shit behind forever and before too long the old cocoon dries up and disappears. That’s what happens when we truly leave the past behind, when we don’t snatch it back again and again to gnaw on like a sore tooth.
So as I head into a new week, this is what I’m determined to do. Maybe determined isn’t the appropriate word, because leaving something behind means surrendering to the void. It means giving up all my illusions of control, not bravely, but with anticipation of what lies ahead, unseen and unknown. And determination is a sort of wish for control, isn’t it? The opposite of surrendering.
“Storytellers ought not to be too tame. They ought to be wild creatures who function adequately in society. They are best in disguise. If they lose all their wildness, they cannot give us the truest joys.” – Ben Okri
To read a full blog on wildness, you really should visit Terri Windling’s beautiful and magical blog, Myth & Moor.
I wasn’t a particularly social kid. I had one or two good friends, but even they didn’t get a lot of my time. I spent “off” time in my room playing records, reading and drawing and, when in my teens, I added writing music, stories and letters to that list. I was social only on occasion and I had no trouble declining invitations to leave my private world. I never was what people call popular, either, and that was fine. When I got into my late 20s and early 30s, though, I suddenly became popular and acquired a large circle of casual friends, but I still maintained only two or three close friendships with people I’d known since childhood.
Myers-Briggs tells me I’m an Extroverted Introvert, which explains everything. I love people, but in small doses, and even at the peak of my long period of extroversion (which lasted nearly three decades) I was happiest when the party was over and I could spend the week in seclusion recharging my battery. I almost forgot that I’m actually a loner and that I need a lot of alone time. Recently, this has all come back to me and my Facebook hiatus is reuniting me with a part of myself that has been neglected for far too long. Even the thought of hosting an occasional party doesn’t excite me like it used to do. Anymore, it just means a week of preparation, a week of cleanup, and a month of Hashimoto’s-induced fatigue.
When we’re young we crave social interaction with a lot of variety, which is only natural given our biological imperative to procreate the species. We need lots of candidates to choose from and a lot of support, but now that that’s all over for me, the thought of having fewer casual friends is more a relief than anything else. Unfortunately, every single one of my lifelong friends are gone now, which leaves me no one to call when the rare moment of loneliness hits. But this is what my marriage fulfills, and is supposed to fulfill. I have a best friend in Nettl and the fact that we’ve been together for 16 years is no small consideration. I’m blessed and grateful that she fills the void in me that my old friends left. Maybe not 100%—there are just some things JP Deni supplied that no one else ever will, but then again, Deni didn’t fulfill every emotional need that Nettl does. With childhood friends it really comes down to shared memories of more innocent, carefree times, and life has a way of moving you along, especially when you’re the last living survivor.
Twice now I’ve watched a circle of casual friends make a mass exodus from my life. Different people, of course, but the same phenomenon. The first group were hangers on who anticipated my impending “fame and fortune” and wanted to be along for the ride. When an important contract fell through they left en masse within a matter of days. This time it’s harder to name and harder to stomach. It’s ugly and based in lies and betrayal, a refusal to communicate, and probably a lot of misunderstanding. Good riddance to both groups. When the first group left I was elevated to the highest creative period my life has known. I’m anticipating even better things this time around because the pain is much greater. (I’m a big believer in relativity.) In both cases, the pain is a blessing in disguise and the “pony under the pile” is that I have more emotional space to do the things that are really important to me.