Van Gogh’s ear wanders the countryside listening for the perfect shade of sunflower yellow. The long-deaf ghost of Beethoven feels the underground’s rumblings, makes music of the earth’s turnings. Lorca wields the right-wing bullets that gunned him down, forges them into diamonds for the oppressed. The suicidally love-sick Mayakovsky finally realizes that being shunned by the one you love doesn’t pain the heart so much when you’re adored by the masses. Hemingway plays his extermination in reverse, realizes it says, “Paul is dead.”
Breath is music. Human steps are music. Every thread of existence is music. Our DNA blows sassy riffs of being. Heartdrums thump, pump steady rhythms. Voices bebop, feet hip-hop. Human touch ties fears into love knots of audacity. The electricity of kisses, like lightning bolts of rock guitars. No need to crank it to 11 if you’re already in 7th heaven. Breath is music. Human steps are music. Hollers of tolerance tear down hate-hewn walls, crumble them into rumbles of unity. Our inner beauty chimes timeless melodies of B natural. The nectar drawn from our pain choruses sweet as summer rains. Our breath is music. Our human steps are music.
The world bears meaning; the world bears meanness. Some mourn the loss of loved ones in cemetery chapels while others build bombs in basements reeking of mildew & madness. When the river knocks at our door, know it’s either offering a gentle current to carry us forward or bearing all the skeletons that wouldn’t fit in our closet. Some days feel like our hearts are singing the musical scale of peace. Other days, life reeks like the first melody ever invented by bad breath. Between the bullets & beauties, the morgues & matrimonies, I pray we can grow older with grace, never avoiding our reflection in mirrors.
Years ago, when I was on one of my very few acid trips, I witnessed the entirety of the sky swirl into a wild blue hurricane then funnel down through my stomach and into my body. The experience shook me violently; I wasn’t built to accommodate something so massive as the sky, with all its birds, stars, planets, suns, moons, and many galaxies. These days, I sometimes recall that moment, trying to imagine wearing the sky as if, finally, it might fit me just right. As if suddenly, you would look my way, and recognize me as all that dazzlingly beautiful blue on your most perfect day.
Do not chisel this early morning’s name into a gray tombstone sky; this day is not ready to die. It reveals that we dress in different shadows—some teach, some heal, others roll misery’s dice while others skinny-dip freely in elation’s wild rivers. Yet come day’s end, we are united. When sundown slips off its gown, we observe the runs in its stockings. When we shed our defenses, it witnesses the scars on our psyches. Come evening, if a cruel moon wraps its hands around our neck, it makes it all the harder for us to serenade one another’s better stars. Still, we dare to sing. We fight to live before the flowers of us wither.
The thing about Einstein was that he loved to get belligerently buzzed on cognac and scrawl on truck stop bathroom walls. In one just outside Princeton, he wrote, “You clowns have seen thousands of trees but you’ve never seen a forest.” In Birmingham he etched, “Two things are infinite: the universe and racist stupidity. And I’m not sure about the universe.” In an Albuquerque bathroom he scribed, ”The man of intelligence is a poor truck driver.” The kindest thing he ever wrote was, ”I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” When he returned a month later, Einstein discovered someone had replied, “Then call Herb for a good time.”
At a Halloween fair on Saturday, my daughter and I rapped drumbeats in unison as we strolled amidst the ghosts and skeletons—a downbeat to diamond our uplift, an upbeat to sapphire our sweet and lows. At one point, a stranger remarked at the sturdiness of my daughter’s voice and her sense of rhythm. It heartens me that my baby girl and I can guide one another towards ever more lively and luminous music, even as strange spirits and boneyards surround us. A downbeat to diamond our uplift, an upbeat to sapphire our sweet and lows.
Those who’ve have made an impression upon us throughout our lifetime tattoo us in some way—skull, rose, a flaming crown of thorns. Perhaps a black cat curled around a quarter moon, a dolphin leaping from our inner sea, or a dream catcher below the throat reminding us our own song is a dazzling one. Some tattoo our flesh with darker inks, hushed moments hidden from the public. Others ink us with light so bright we’re often mistaken for the sun. Invincible heart tattoos through which no bullets can pass, leaving feeling bold as love when next we meet.
Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the Practice Gratitude sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your ego and resentments beneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin. Any oversized angers will need to be gate-checked before departure. We remind you, this is a non-hating flight. Hating is prohibited on the entire aircraft, including the lavatories. Racist slurs, mean tweets, sexist or homophobic slurs are prohibited by law. If you have any concerns, please meditate with one of our flight attendants. Thank you for flying Awareness Airlines.
Like all our poised and purposeful premonitions pregnant with positivity. Or all wars laying down their weapons in obeisance to painless possibilities of togetherness. Music that not only enters our ears, but also our hearts, surrounds our bodies with sonic auras of sumptuousness. Our cruel kisses shedding vestiges of cold legacies. Our arms, divining rods seeking out warm embraces. Slingshots loaded with forget-me-nots. Truth as a breakfast food tasting great without being sugarcoated. In a world going this way and that, so often hectic and disconnected, there are times when we dream the same dreams.