Darling, we are the light reflected
Darling, we are the love we made
Darling, nothing precious is protected
We’re all trembling like a blossom
With winter on the way. — Rob Jungklas
Maybe it’s last week’s passing of Wanda Wilson, the singular and much-loved proprietess of the P&H Cafe, a woman who created and curated a beer joint that once made Midtown feel like a village of like-minded souls. It was a harbor, a place of sanity (and insanity), conversation, friendship, and laughter for those of us of a certain age.
Maybe it’s the rain and the long cold spell and the winter hanging on, but there’s an inevitable sadness that comes when you ponder the passing of people and things. Sometimes you just have to let it in.
Or maybe it was my discovery of Rob Jungklas’ “Everything That’s True,” a perfect and gorgeous song celebrating the temporal, inevitable human condition. Memphis singer Susan Marshall posted Jungklas’ song on her Facebook page and dedicated it to all the “beloved Memphians who have recently passed: Jimi Jamison, Jack Holder, John Hampton, John Fry, Sid Selvidge, Jim Dickinson, Di Anne Price, Mabon ‘Teenie’ Hodges, James Govan, and Wanda Wilson.”
Seeing that list in black and white was stunning. So many Memphis music and cultural icons gone in such a short time, so much light no longer reflected.
I found myself wanting to disconnect from the hive-mind of email and chatrooms and Twitter and Facebook for a while. I dug out some old books and hunkered down by the fireplace on Sunday, reading from Be Here Now, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and a battered Alan Watts tome — books that offer words and thoughts that lead one back to the center, to this moment.
Here. Now. All that we have.
And after thinking for a while, it came to me that the hive itself, the incessant connections we make with each other these days, is itself a gift — a way of learning more about the joys and pains of the human condition. The village is larger now; the beer joints are still there, but there are other paths to empathy, to sharing sorrows, celebrations, and memories, to being connected to those we don’t see often enough.
The deepest valley of the human heart knows winter is always on the way, even as spring approaches. It’s as certain as the throw of stars overhead on a February night. There’s a sadness there, but it’s a good sadness. And that too is a gift.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...