Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Beggar Man Beggar

Beggar man, beggar man
Tell me no lie
Is it a mystery to live
Or is it a mystery to die

- Bob Dylan via Rhiannon Giddens, Spanish Mary

* * *

That's the ball of wax, isn't it?

* * *

The mystery of our days are the days themselves. The mystery of our lives are the lives themselves. The mystery of our deaths is death itself. Where, oh where can a poor man lay his head in all of this? I just want to pay some bills, have a beer at the end of the day, and maybe, just maybe curl up next to a body that loves my body and rock awhile. Not too much to ask, mister. Not too much at all. Now leave me be, leave me be my show's coming on and I have 4 beers left before the night is through. I been down in the bottom with no place to go but up. I seen the lights of Paris and I seen men die from forgetfulness. Now leave me be and grab a beer if you're staying. Other than that, other than that, this is my time. My time and I like the quiet.

* * *

Listen, the best thing I know about being here is we don't know a goddamn thing. We have feints and suppositions. We surmise and we guess. We believe and then don't believe. We cobble together a way to move on, always on (even sitting still is an answer - a shitty one, but an answer nonetheless) never knowing if what we're doing matters at all. God awaits in heaven, or he doesn't. Hell is sitting there waiting for the violent, or it isn't. We pull back from questions of the afterlife and focus on the here and now and here and now and here and now we idle in passing pleasures and passing griefs. But time abides, my friends. Time abides and the flesh we've clothed ourselves in begins to fail, discombobule, rattles and rusts and then, then, and then our passions are spent or unused and we are here no more.

So, let me ask you, is it a mystery to live or is it a mystery to die?

From where I sit, the answer is yes.

This, this one moment, this right now is the mystery and it is plain and ordinary. Any moment has within it depths and layers to satisfy any interpretation of it: superficial, spiritual, material, emotional, psychological. If you see with tired eyes, then the world passes unnoticed and miracles of infinite possibility pass without being touched or considered. It always used to blow my mind that my father could see birds in the trees. He'd hear their song, look into a tangle of branched and burled twigs and limbs and leaves and find the damn thing and try to point it out to me. All I saw were leaves. He found the source of the song. Maybe it is something that grows as you get older, but now I see the birds and can pick them out from the tangle before me.

Two people in the same place at the same time having two entirely different experiences of the same thing. I don't know why he wanted to find the birds, but I know why I do it: to remember him and his good company.

This, itself, is the mystery of life and death held in birdsong.

* * *

So, let me ask you, is it a mystery to live or is it a mystery to die?

Each moment waits for you to see it.
Each moment is there for you to use.
Each moment, regardless of your circumstance, is a chance to choose how you will undergo, how you will experience, how you will enter that moment.
Each moment has more than leaves and birds in it. It is up to you see all you can.

And there is this: death sings its own songs and worrying about it now robs you of the mystery of being here right now.

And there is this: fear is death leaking into life and hiding away, hiding in hurt, hiding in anger, hiding in worry blinds you, blinds you, blinds you to the emergent mystery unfolding all around you: life, motherfucker, life is incessant and insistent and awaits your contribution. You can refuse it, if you like, but life will flow anyway and fill in the space where you could have been.

* * *

I been down in the bottom with no place to go but up. I seen the lights of Paris and I seen men die from forgetfulness, busted up because things went wrong. I seen dogs with two legs and touched Lincoln's brass nose. I been places and still have places to go. Grab a beer and if you'll sit a while I'll tell you what I know. I got lost on the river, but I didn't drown.

* * *

For you, Pops.


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