Friday, December 23, 2011

Hey Willie How

TVZ: The hard road
Hey Willie, how you gonna feel
When leaves turn gold beneath your heels?
Twirl and spin never gonna fall.
Fallin' just wont do at all.
Naw, that wouldn't do at all.

- Townes Van Zandt, "Hey Willie Boy"

* * *

I read to find clues others have left behind. Truly. I read, I listen, I watch for the clues others have left behind. As a kid I always searched the ground for money that had fallen out of pockets, and usually could find some if I was walking for a bit. I also scanned the ground for the stray Playboy magazine and could find that as well. It was all about choosing to look for those things. Had I chosen to look for hubcaps or pop bottles, I'd have found those and filtered out the scraps of money and the stray pages of naked girls. So, when I read and listen and watch for clues that others left behind - whether they did so consciously or not - I find hints and threads and trails and it keeps me moving. 20 years ago I came upon Townes Van Zandt's music. It's been a motherlode.

* * *

I know. I know. Your life is fucked. I get it. Your demons have you by the short hairs. The world doesn't give a shit about you and you are fucked, stuck and going nowhere. I get it, but the clock is ticking. That is the one constant for us all - the clock is always winding down on our tour of this time and place. So, you have to make some choices. Are you looking for money, naked girls, hubcaps or pop bottles? What you choose makes all the difference and if you choose to wallow in your fucktitude by not choosing you will find that too: exactly nothing.

This isn't wishful thinking, The Secret, or any such feel-good pablum. No, no, no. This is about the hard road and the choices you need to make to reclaim your life. It isn't beauty or ease that are the ends. No, it's about living by what light you have in your head and organizing every aspect of your life to tend that flame, to keep it burning and finally to use it up before laying it down. Your choices are the filters of your experience. While there is the objective truth that the Grand Canyon exists, there is no accord as to its meaning because each of us brings to bear our choices, our filters and what each sees and responds to will necessarily be different.

And this is the incredible gift you have been shitting on.
Snap out of it.

* * *

In the story of Sir Galahad, the knights agree to go on a quest, but thinking it would be a disgrace to go forth as a group, each "entered into the forest, at one point or another, there where they saw it to be thickest, all in those places where they found no way or path." Where there is a way or path, it's someone else's way. Each knight enters the forest at the most mysterious point and follows his own intuition. What each brings forth is what never before was on land or sea: the fulfillment of his unique potentialities, which are different from anybody else's. All you get on your life way are little clues.
     In that wonderful story, when any knight sees the trail of another, thinks he's getting there, and starts to follow the other's track, he goes astray entirely.

* * *

You listen to Townes' music for a while and one character always tends to show up, makes his presence felt: the road, the hard road. Townes wrote about the men and women of the hard road. The music is by turns sad, haunting, occasionally shot through with graveyard humor but always, always, always, always human, humane, soaked in compassion for the losers and drifters on the road. Having been lost, having drifted in my time I am drawn to that compassion. It is a clue to my redemption, the thing I now look for instead of loose change or rainsoaked porn.

Willie Boy tells me that fallin' just won't do at all. You see there's still a bit of road left in his feet and things can still come 'round. It may be a hard road, but it is his road and that is all anyone ever gets or could ask for and what each brings forth was never on land or sea.

Fallin' just won't do.
You have to choose and you have some ground to cover.
Now quit looking at me and enter into that place where there is no path.

* * *



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