“Someday everything gunna be different”

Here is a secret.

I am fine, just as I am.

It is true that I have sinned and hurt people out of fear laziness and habit.

It is true, that I will do it again.

That harm is real, and must be taken into account.

Yet, just as many of my mistakes have come because I did not believe that I was fine, just as I am.

What to do?

I am deserving of my love. But I don’t believe it.

I keep my knowledge that I am fine a secret.

I keep it hidden because if I say it out loud I will be misunderstood. I keep it a secret because I may be wrong.

Here is a way in which this knowledge is not wrong. This night, I have been listening to each song with fresh ears, as if everything worth knowing about them could be laid bare by listening deeply enough. As if history and context did not matter. As if the song had inherent meaning that could be discerned by anyone who opened themselves up to it.

That technique has served me well. It is a useful tool. It reveals aspects of the songs that I might have otherwise missed. That was correct.

This is also correct: As the opening chords of When I Paint my Masterpiece” ring out, I am transported to another time. This is fine (I don’t believe it is fine, but it happens anyways so I try not to resist). Embracing context is the right thing for this song.

If I hang onto my old tool, if I try and face only what is in front of me when my eyes are behind me, I will only be twisting myself in more knots, I will failing.

That would not be fine.

I’m plummeting backwards into my memory but it’s only a problem if I resist. Otherwise I’m fine just as I am.

I’m fine.

Here is a simple truth that is hard to accept.

I was depressed for some time. It was not heroic, or unique. It was not similar to the times I am sad or filled with existential fear now. My current woes matter. But this was not that.

I was depressed and it was a big deal for me. And it was not all that special.

The opening chords I hear are simple and soft compared to everything that’s come before. No fireworks. Just the power of a folk strum.

Then the same pattern begins to weave back into itself, a deceptively intricate rhythm emerges from those same notes.

And the voice in my mind, now impossibly deep, sings

“Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
Ancient footprints are everywhere
Well you can almost think that you’re seein’ double
On a cold dark night on the Spanish Stairs”

I fall backwards into the dark center of that voice. Each note a cold dark night that reverberates through my memory.

These moments are time, captured and imprinted on my soul. What started as jagged rock has had it’s hard edges worn smooth in the twisting waters of my own introspection.

These words and these notes and their interplay are part of me. From where I stand, they belong more deeply to me then they do to the singer.

They accompanied me on nights that seemed to last forever. That I thought would last forever. During a time that stretched on so long that I stopped thinking about time. I felt in my soul that there was nothing but failure and suffering (and I suppose, this song). I did not consider how long it might last. I knew that could break me.

Giving up was not an option. I was ill.

“Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece
She promised she’d be right there with me”

I was caring for others. This is important. Because I am not strong enough to endure this for myself. If I faltered the weight of the world would crush me. And that was appealing.

But there were those I cared for, who held within them infinite possibility and potential. In whose eyes I might find my own redemption.

That is not a healthy cosmology to live by. But it is the cosmology that kept me sitting in the chair all through the night, humming this song to myself.

And so, while the voice those around me hear may not be impossibly deep, the voice that I hear, is.

After the verse, the strumming comes back, more intense now. Keeping time, but still, just a little askew. It calls out, and then pauses, skipping a beat, as if it might falter entirely. As if it doesn’t quite know if it will make the next strum, or fade away entirely. But then it picks back up again. Just enough, just in time.

Again and again, so it’s near-death becomes part of the song.

“When I paint my masterpiece”

The understatement here is the light that drew me to this tune. It is not sarcasm. Sarcasm obscures with a cruel edge. This is something else. Something sincere.

I did not believe that I had a masterpiece in me. I do not now.

But more than that, I knew with every fiber of my being, that if I did, it would not change anything that mattered.

But I sincerely held out hope anyways. I contained this contradiction. I fell in love with this contradiction.

And when I hear the song, sung to myself under my breath, or by the singer on stage, the song knows it too. It knows that a masterpiece can redeem nothing. If beauty and accomplishment are to have any meaning, it must be in their own grace.

If the song didn’t know that, it was worthless to me. But if it did, if it held all of that, and still, said “everything gunna be different” knowing full well that it would not be.

Then it was a mirror unto myself.

“Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle
I can hardly stand to see ’em
Well, it sure has been a long hard ride”

That. Exactly that. No more. No less.

Dodging lions that want to kill me. No fault of their own. We have all been placed here against our will.

My life is on the line, but more than anything I am weary.

What does it mean to be held in the hands of a masterpiece? To draw safety and security and oxygen from it? To have it’s meanings refract within you. To know that it is flawed as you are flawed. Yet it holds itself with beauty and grace, and maybe so to do I.

The intonation in my mind remains dark, cutting, and simple. The chords are just a touch too complicated to fully absorb, even as they seem to fade in and out of existing at all. The bass comes in, holding down the rhythm when it seems in danger. A subtle booming, like explosions in the distance.

Or perhaps close… too close… perhaps it is happening so close the mind rejects it, and it can only be absorbed as with distance, real or imagined. Observer error.

The singer emphasizes bone-deep weariness at their time spent dodging lions. Yet they muster a ragged edge for the plaintive “long hard ride”.

“…wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday, life will be sweet like a rhapsody”

And still that striving that holds it all together. I stare at my loved ones. I do not wonder if life has ever been sweet like a rhapsody. I do not wonder if it will be again. I do not ponder if I even like any rhapsodies.

Instead, I feel in my bones what it would be like to believe that someday life could be like that.
When I paint…

“I left Rome and landed in Brussels
On a …ride so bumpy that I almost cried”

Why does this of all things bring up the tears? It’s such small detail, the bumps of hard travel.

Perhaps it’s the smallness of it. Perhaps it’s the singer, who finds a new register to go even deeper, as they communicate in tone what can’t be said in words. Each syllable being drawn out slightly longer. The words of the song now, repeating the trick of the rhythm, where I’m held in minor suspense… will he ever get the sentence out…

“so… bumpy…..I……..almost…….cried”

And then a moment of relief. Without changing much – the song is so simple there is little to change – the music  opens up and breathes. Like air after being choked. Not that first gasping breath. The one after. And the one after that.

When the muscles work again; before the memory has faded into its protective cocoon.

“Clergymen in uniform and young girls pullin’ muscles
Everyone was there to greet me when I stepped inside”

Of course, that sensation is a lie, and song does not indulge in it. It’s not trying to say everything is fine, and it’s not trying to trick me. There is no deception here. Just a moment of wide open space as part of the journey.

A space to imagine being greeted with open arms. To lay down my burdens. To be at ease.

I know that I only hear the singer in front of me say

“Someday everything gunna be different”

Once. Or maybe twice.

But in my minds song, the line repeats, again and again.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

I am fine.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

The words sing-song up and down, teetering.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

The words desperate and dark. I am fine.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

The words almost feral now. I am fine just as I am. At the outer edges of sanity. Again and again. And again. Into the night.

“Someday everything gunna be different”
Someday everything gunna be different”
Someday everything gunna be different”
Someday everything’s be sweet like a rhapsody.

Here is a secret.

“I said someday everything gunna be different”

“When I paaaaaiiiinnnnnttttt”
…my masterpiece”

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