i first heard this song several years after it was recorded by michael stipe and chris martin for a hurricane katrina benefit. the first few notes made me look up from my solitaire game to see what it was (how i loved the satellite radio for that feature!). the sun was shining over the sea of cortez, yet i was playing cards at the kitchen table. because that’s what i do when i’m there. i’m outside all the time at home, so having the luxury of staying inside is my kind of vacation! after those few notes, michael stipe began singing “i picture you in the sun, wondering what went wrong. and falling down on your knees, asking for sympathy. and being caught in between all you wish for and all you’ve seen. and trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in.”
the poignancy of those lyrics and of that melody brought my new old friend to mind. i blame facebook for our reconnection, actually, for our connection, because we weren’t friends as children, but we did grow up in the same town, went to the same schools. but i was a nerd and he was, well, not one. but for some reason he wrote me, asked me how i was, said he remembered me clearly. i wrote back. and then he wrote back, and it just didn’t stop. until it did.
anyway, my friend was living a life without passion, without connection, without all he wished for. and no hope for change because he wouldn’t ask for it. he put himself last, which is certainly admirable, but only to a point. and that point is somewhere well before you break your own heart.
i know that many with religious leanings will see this song in that way, especially because of the line “may god’s love be with you, always.” but i hear it less literally… i hear that line as a “farewell, my friend.” and “i wish you well.” and “i’m with you even though i’m not.” even the line “cause if i find, if i find my own way, how much will i find you” can have religious undertones, but again, because i’m not religious (to the point of almost being anti-religious, because of the hypocrites), i see it as a symbol of spiritual connection. a soul mate thing, perhaps. and when i say soul mate, i don’t mean it at all in a romantic fashion. perhaps soul friend, or soul partner, is a better description. the point is when you find someone who points you back to yourself, who reminds you of who you are, who proves to you you’re not crazy to want that in a friendship, well, that’s golden. that’s sunshine and light.
as often happens, my friendship ended. and it was painful. but i learned so much. about me and the kind of friend i am. i am not a casual friend. i can be social, even friendly, but if i see something in you that makes me want to know you, i will ask you about yourself until you beg me to stop. it doesn’t happen often that i meet someone who’ll allow themselves to be subjected to my interrogation or who i want to know, which is okay, because it’s exhausting. but when it does, it’s such a gift.
i hated this song for awhile, after the friendship ended. i hated what it brought to mind… but in time i learned to cope with the unknown, and with self-doubt. and with anger and forgiveness. and best of all, i learned to love this song again.
i wrote this because of a prompt from my friend at “from the bungalow.” i’m trying to figure out this blogging thing as i go along, and i don’t even know how to tag you, bungalow, so please forgive me… thank you for giving me the inspiration.
(thank you, running from hell with el, for the tagging lesson… hopefully, i won’t have to ask you again!)