On Saturday I was tramping along in the hot sun, N’s dog Thundercloud at my side. I was thinking about the fragility of human relationships. In some nothing seems to be wrong but they fall apart anyway. All it takes is for one person to lack drive, to fear commitment, or to believe they can have something better with different companions. And yet there’s nothing wrong with living apart – we cannot own each other. It’s enough that people get along and give aid or friendship when needed.
Before that I had been thinking about the impermanence of other things. Nothing that we have thought, said or done will survive for all time. Only if humans somehow survive into infinity will a selection of our works and knowledge accompany them. But if the human race dies, everything we have created also dies.
While on that topic, there are the individuals – the plants, animals and people, dying one by one. It’s terrible to think of those we love just ceasing to be, yet immortality would be a terrible thing. Reproduction would have to cease if we didn’t want to live on each other’s shoulders, eight miles high.
I tried to imagine another world where every soul who has ever lived continues existence in more or less that form. How do they find the room? It must be full by now. It’s crowded enough where we are – how much worse would it be in this other world?
Still musing about doomed relationships and the fleeting nature of people and things, I passed a tiny, beautifully tended Japanese-style garden. Something about it was just too perfect and too manicured to be true.
“Somebody went to a lot of trouble with that patch of earth,” I thought, “and yet will be fighting with weeds and grass popping up where not wanted, and eventually will get tired of it and change it, or sell it to someone else who will dig up the whole thing and plant potatoes. And one day maybe it will all be barren land with rocks and scrub as far as the eye can see – no trace of this little place. Nothing lasts forever.”
And there it was – that phrase, the one that connected everything I’d been thinking. A song I loved as a teenager came welling out of a shadowy corner of my memories. I played it repeatedly in the house we left a long time ago in a town we no longer see. People and animals lived in that house who are long since gone. I haven’t thought about this song for years – and there it was in my head as though I’d been listening to it only yesterday.
Of that I’m sure
Now you’ve made an offer
I’ll take some more
Up till then I had just been trudging and thinking in a dull kind of way, but suddenly something changed. There was joy and rediscovery, mixed with sadness.
I loved that singer. Did he think about the same sort of things? When did he just fade into my past and remain forgotten? When did I become somebody else?
I can’t believe
It’s still the same old movie
That’s haunting me
This song has been in my head ever since that moment and I don’t want to let it go. It reconnects me to my past and brings perspective to the present.
For now it’s the same old scene – but nothing lasts forever.
Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was on Blogigo:
kateblogs wrote at Jun 12, 2006 at 13:28:
What a wonderful post. So evocative.
drifting wrote at Jun 13, 2006 at 07:21:
What kateblogs said!
jasrus1969 wrote at Feb 10, 2008 at 23:50:
Heard this same tune on Ashes To Ashes the other night, lovely tune, very thought provoking and just glad I tracked it down.