Unraveling Me

This post was inspired by three completely different songs, all of them are magic. While you read this, I recommend you listen to them here. As each of these appeared in my life, they were exactly what I needed. One gave me a smile and way to respite, the next song helped me look through some of the doors in my past and be honest about what I saw. The last one helped me to understand what to do with all of this and so I write.

Don’t It Feel Good by Mt. Joy

Ugly Faces by John Moreland

After The Gold Rush by Katie Pruitt

I have been wrestling with the faces of my past. I have had some small victories, but I have not won. I am, however, no longer ashamed of being who I am. Part of the battle was letting go of the things I was told I was. I am determined to grow and to understand where I came from and what I can do about that. I am a sixty-one-year-old straight, white male and that carry’s some baggage and some responsibility. It has taken me far too long to come to this place, but I am here, and I am listening, I am learning, and I am growing.

 We told ourselves we’d tell it true…

But I learned how to lie watching you…

I grew up believing that racism was dead, and that John Wayne had a hand in killing it.

I believed that.

I was a senior in high school when I found out the United States was not a democracy. One of my teachers took a detour into describing the electoral college and I was struck numb. It did not matter what the popular vote was, if certain criteria were met, you became president. That shook me, and for a time, I started asking questions and shaking a few of the more obvious trees around me. Racism leered right into my view, and I stared at it, I was angry about it, I really did not understand. I was raised by one the strongest women I have ever known and had a front row seat to the inequalities of the seventies. But then life took her and that shook me so hard, I simply drifted and that quiet awakening that had started was quickly snuffed out. I bumbled my way through my twenties and thirties, riding all the while on the back of privilege. Eventually, I embraced the root of patriotism itself, the church. There is nothing that separates the church from our state. It is richly and warmly embraced in every detail, “In God We Trust.”

I don’t know how I built this boat
Or if it’s always gonna float

From my first breath, I was taught that this was the day the lord hath made…. I am still unraveling the threads of those bindings. I have unraveled enough of them to wonder at how incredulous we are. We will let fear rule us. We will and we have. I have always known that what I was taught from birth was wrong. But I went back, and this time I took my two kids with me.

All the ugly faces look just like me.

Every road that brought us here, happy tears under a chandelier
Proof that there’s no map, so there’s no point turnin’ back
Yes, every note I ever sung melts into another one
So I won’t pretend that I know when
But I know all good things must end
So where do we go when everyone knows
Someday our hearts explode

I understand the roads I walked were choices I made, and I know that some of my choices were right. But so many were wrong and because I look like I do, I got to keep walking. If you do not believe that this nation is designed to empower the white European male, you just are not looking. Everything this nation stood for is a smudged scorecard that no one wants to read. Take some time and study our history, and I mean the real history, not the pretty picture of pilgrims having dinner. I am talking about our history of eradicating thousands of cultures and millions of people from this continent. Be honest in understanding what slavery was and what is left of it that we have refused to deal with.

Our forefathers eliminated the very voices we should have listened to.

We committed genocide, and in the end, it was suicide. We have all but used up the raw value of our mother, the earth. If not for her, none of us will breathe, we will not be… she is about to expel us….

All the ugly faces look just like me…

Well I dreamed I saw the knights in armor comin’
Sayin’ something about a queen
There were peasants singin’ and drummers drummin’
And the archer split the tree
There was a fanfare blowin’ to the sun
That was floating on the breeze
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the 1970s
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the 1970s

Every single person has something you will never have. They have their story. Their road is their own unique path and you have not walked it. Please accept that, then you might see the beauty in the weaving of all our stories. I do not know how you built your boat, or if it’s always gonna float. But I am here, and you matter.

Well, I dreamed I saw the silver space ships flyin’
In the yellow haze of the sun
There were children cryin’ and colors flyin’
All around the chosen ones
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loadin’ had begun
Flying Mother Nature’s silver seed
To a new home in the sun
Flying Mother Nature’s silver seed

To a new home

People keep asking how many more? What will it take… when will we have allowed enough lives to be stolen before we decide what to do with this mess? The planet we exist on is preparing to reset itself and its current inhabitants are so deluded by power and wealth that they have devoured every beautiful thing they should have saved.

Elementary school children are massacred, and we keep asking, what will be enough? The few who could change the direction of civilization will not because they simply do not care. I am not being cynical. This is just an observation built on sixty-one years of watching the power of colonization devour everything in sight. Sixty-one years of watching people use God as their reason to kill, rape and destroy. Manifest destiny, Doctrine of Discovery… unravel the deep.

Does it even matter? Does it ever last?
I didn’t want the answer to the question that I asked
Can I kill a monster? Can I be a man?
I can’t afford to give a damn if you don’t understand

The more I understand the depths of our history the more I struggle with my anger at who we have become. We have been the greatest nation ever. My father and his six brothers all went off to war, four in the great war and the youngest three went to Korea. They all came home, some with medals and some were completely ruined but they could see an enemy and they understood. Today we are so fragile and divided that we do not see that we are ripping ourselves apart from the inside out.

I am disappointed. This war for who America will be is destroying us. My own family is divided, and I see my nation unraveling and it unravels me. Within my disappointment I am grasping for hope. I find hope in the people I work with and hope in the folks that buy their groceries from us. I gather hope from the amazing music all around us, so if I can give you one thing with my words, I choose to give you hope.

Hey, don’t it feel good? Don’t it feel alright?
To get a little stoned, and push the mess aside
But there’s an endless highway in our crowded minds today
Or you could hear the ocean as the cars parade

I had the pleasure of watching Mt. Joy a few weeks ago at Woodland Park Zoo and they give me hope. I cannot remember ever seeing a group of musicians this talented. Every single one of them has a magical gift and they moved me. I believe that a world with Matt, Jackie, Sam, Michael, and Sotiris in it, has a chance of healing. The energy and vibe amongst the crowd of people that watched them was what I would hope we could get to. We all danced, and we all were moved by the magic of Mt. Joy.

I know that just being joyful will not fix this world alone, it will take great painful changes. Our reliance on fossil fuels is not only impacting our future on this planet but it also is an example of our perpetuation of fear. We must conquer fear, we, who have privilege must be the ones to take a stand. Let your mind get quiet, think about your role, and go start writing your story, do not believe the lie.

But I’m a lonely shade of bluе
I don’t know what else to do

John Moreland gives me a vehicle to work through the ugly faces that crowd my dreams. His voice carries his soul and the words that it writes. This is the magic that I always look for. A weaving of lyrics and tune that allows me to unravel something a little further than I was able to before. I am not sure where I would be without artists like John. He is giving us his voice and soul in this album (Birds in the Ceiling), it’s a beautiful journey… this is a songwriter.  

I was lyin’ in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes
I was hopin’ for replacement
When the sun burst though the sky
There was a band playin’ in my head
And I felt like getting high
I was thinkin’ about what a friend had said
I was hopin’ it was a lie
Thinkin’ about what a friend had said
I was hopin’ it was a lie

When I first heard Katie Pruitt’s cover of Neil Young’s After The Goldrush, I just listened, I just kept playing it over and over. I found something rich and beautiful in Katie’s version of an epic song. Somewhere in those repeated plays I knew I needed to just write. Writing is how I process, and it is how I give.

My relationship as a fan or listener of Neil’s music is as sorted as my many twists and turns in the life I chose to walk. Today I appreciate him deeply, as an advocate, as an artist and as a man who is honest. I laughed when I read that he did not remember why he wrote this song and then I was grateful. I found my way through this song and what it meant to me in my own way and through a beautiful voice and artist who I hope to enjoy for many years to come. Listening to Katie’s music is an indication she has a lot of magic to give.

Writing brought me to this day. I chose a long road to get to this place, but I am here. I will adamantly pursue the art of writing. If my writing can make you smile or avoid making a misstep, then I am happy. My joy comes from the simple act of writing. Sitting in my thoughts and pulling out stories gives me immense joy. My hope is to give as much of that back to you as I can. I will still be giving you all the joy I can find as you come through my checkout line, but my greatest hope for you is that you find your joy. Pursue the magic that you make. If you tie-dye, then tie-dye… If you write, then write. If you design then design, if you cook then cook. Whatever it is that lets you bring magic forth, go after it. Do not let them tell you this is just the way it is. It is the way you make it, nothing more nothing less.

I believe in you

Listening, learning, and growing….

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