All this talk of human might… and yet at the clock’s mercy we all remain. I can hide it or dress it up any way I’d like. As can you. But the ‘tick-tock’ of inevitability can be deafening. Something we all were supposed to learn from Captain Hook, yet never quite did.
So, despite what the title may say, Sunday morning was a good while ago now. But Wednesday Afternoon Musings just does not have the same ring to it.
I shall not ask forgiveness, though. This Sunday morning, I was still across the Great Atlantic. The weariness from my return trip kept me from getting words down until now. And I’ve found it best to not force words for the sake of a deadline. Even a self-set one. As deadlines are wicked things. They are for people who would judge a poem based upon some sort of prescribed rubric, as opposed to allowing the words to wield their way through your emotions. The same sort of people who would rather live every moment scheduled instead of allowing some fantastic chaos. The folks who have intercourse out of anniversary obligation instead of making love when the urge is felt.
And don’t kid yourself, there is a difference.
But here I am, whittling away at time. And upon each moment, grows a thought. Just as another withers and falls to the ground. The living ones sway to and fro, with each passing gust. The dead ones glide away to lands unknown. Perhaps they feed each other. From one comes the other, and so on, etc. From life to death- death, life. Maybe no idea is ever new. Just a burst borrowed from somewhere else. After all, it’s like I’ve always said- “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.”
Totally my words. Don’t look it up or anything. Just trust that it was my idea.
So, does it all come from somewhere else? Is everything just a replication? A fabrication made to mock something that already was? Our ideas that we think so grand and new, just recycled ghosts of something so vague or underused?
Or can a moment be truly inspired? From the void of nothingness, seemingly of an all organic composition?
A few months ago, years, I may have suggested that there is not the smallest chance that an inspiration is true. It is all taken from elsewhere.
To be able to say that today is not as easy as I once thought. Without seeking all that much of it out, I have found my pockets full of inspiration. And not forced. Not dragged kicking and screaming from the depths of memory.
Of the many instances upon which I currently find my inspiration, they all seem to be unique. Even those that may be nothing more than a continuation of what was before. And some, I dare say, seem to be on their own. I have never been able to trick myself all that well into any kind of romantic ideals. It is the romance that always tricks me. It finds me whilst I was out, half-assed searching for something else. Dancing, by herself. Not looking for me, just as I was not for her. And yet, there we are, gazing upon each other. With nothing but the vast and vicious tendrils of time to pull us apart.
There’s a word for such a thing, or so I’ve been told. Epistemophily. And to my understanding, it is used to describe an awakening of inspiration. And also, to my understanding, it is not used for the ‘self-help’ variety of being inspired. It is reserved for the moment based. The gusto that knocks one on ones as, as to invite them to watch the sunlight bounce between the ripples of windblown leaves.
‘Twas my dear friend, the Irish academic, who gave me such a word. It’s a funny thing, us humans. How we meet each other and what draws us to one another. It is an even more comical bit how time can be nothing between meetings, once it is you end up meeting again. Four long years since I saw this fellow. And yet, within moments, the ages melt away and there we are pondering this collective life from individual perspectives. I, the American layman, and he, the Celtic scholar. Different in many ways, and yet of a close enough mind to find hours pass with ease as we dig apart the troubles of the world. Mixed of course, with the exchange of literature, philosophy, humor, life tales and bits about Oscar Wilde, Frank Sinatra, John Locke and Bruce Springsteen.
I wish you all the ability to have such discussion I had found myself having during this trip. And as I will most certainly find myself having well into the future.
And though picking apart individual and collective psyche in St. Stephen’s Green on an almost cliché rainy Dublin afternoon is certainly something profound, such epistemophily is not limited to there. In fact, as of late, I find such things more and more. Be it a ski lodge turned concert hall, or Galway pub, or late-night kitchen table- it has occurred to me that if one allows, in this case your current narrator, the ingenuity of motivation can be found in many a place. Particularly, the unexpected.
But even the unexpected will be tainted by expectation.
Or so says I. The bumbling boy-man who clings to hope like a junkie’s needle.
Yet I ask you to heed these words, even if I speak to no other than my future self, digging through the past to find what was lost:
If it is gone, let it go. You cannot hold anything new with the dead in your arms. Besides, the dead do not often sit idly by. They have already left many things behind, for as they say, you cannot take any of it with you.
And even grander than that, the dead can live. Through us. The living. We dance for them. We play their songs or use them to make our own. We look a bit like a few of them and read the words they wrote. And you need not hold on to any bit of them actively. Without attempting at all, we already hold on to our pasts. The extra effort towards doing so is nothing but wasted energy.
I know this, because I’ve seen it. And this is only something I can share with you because I waited past Sunday morning to write. For this happened Sunday evening. Even after thinking I had not a drop of energy left with my body, nearly falling asleep on the train from Dublin to almost Dunboyne, one of those moments found me.
The last evening I spent in the grand land of Ireland was with locals, in their proper local. Not some touristy Temple Bar bullshit, nor some Trinity College bar. Just the pub, with the people of all ages inside. The front door locked, but the back open to those who know. Which, by the way, is a very Irish thing. Does not happen like that as often in the States.
But what I found here, profound may not even hold the vocabulary power to describe.
As young as perhaps ten, to as old as at least sixty and all those in between, a group of folks had a proper session. A few fiddles, a guitar, a pair of varied sized accordions, a tenor banjo and a solo bodhran- all together, all coming and going between pints to play whatever tune came to mind. Smiles and stoic faces. No perfect symphony and in fact, its perfection resided in its chips and flaws. The jokes between and during songs. The wrong notes that were recovered quickly. The confusion of a member or two as they recall, “oh yes, that’s right. It goes from that to this. G’on now. Yeah, yeah, I’ve got it now.”
It may have been sleep deprivation. It may have been poetic hopefulness. It may have just been my own brand of madness, but I could swear there was more in that room that what the eye could catch. There was more to be felt. Perhaps it was the ghosts. The souls of those who taught the living these songs. That built the building. Built the town. Built the whole nation, no matter what it cost.
And in that room we stayed until there wasn’t any more stout flowing. And what was felt, whatever else was there with us, may be there still.
Or as I said, perhaps I am just mad. But I’d rather be mad with that, than sane with nothing at all.