After the first couple of months during the pandemic, I was getting restless. I quickly began to see that we would never go back to the old normal. But in another way everything seemed to be the same old thing. I got to thinking maybe I was the one that needed to change with the times.
After all we come here to this planet through a vaginal canal as we step into a story that is already 4.5 billion years old. Then in a few years we think we know it all. Or worse we think the story is ours that we are making it all happen. Collectively we do affect the story in a major way but even presidents only nudge the needle by small margins in the really big picture.
So there I was deciding I should change the same old thing. Enjoy!
This song came from a phrase that appeared in a conversation I was having with my wife Jo. We were talking about her going to Australia without me. I said “if you go there, I go lonely”. Then the song evolved to being around all the loves we all lose or miss or never over in our lives. Love is such a powerful emotion. It can almost seem like a physical entity. I worked on this one for a few months before I could finish it. I hope you enjoy.
The title is the gist, a world that’s full of peace and I feel crazy. All the many things that make life interesting can be painful at the same time. I wrote this song in the zone. I did not write it with intention or purpose, rather I wrote it as intuitive question. Why do I feel crazy sometimes? Am I crazy?
So often I can feel a world that is desperately trying to be at peace with itself, but there always seems to be a tempest just behind the peace. Perhaps it stands to reason, on a planet where everything living lives by consuming something that has died, there naturally would be a lot of violence. This world is filled with so much destruction and damage that humans have done to one another, the atmosphere, the landscape even deep in the planet, the oceans and all of the life forms here in, everything now seems to be negatively impacted by humans. There have always been people killing one another. One of the first stories in the bible is of Cain killing Abel. Most myths follow form, something is killing something or someone else. Is this why even children stand up in school and shoot their classmates out of nature, rage or insanity?
Why? Where does it all come from? Ask a Jew a Muslim or a Christian and they are likely to tell you it comes from original sin, or they might say it is from the devil. Hindus and Buddhists might say it is the karmic consequence of all of our behavior and choices. It seems to me that karma is closer to the answer, but it could still be deeper. I mean we didn’t intentionally set out to destroy everything, look at the beauty we have created on purpose. Look at our art or inventions and their original intent – most of them anyway. I truly think we mean well overall as a species. But what choices do we really have when we need to kill something in order to survive?
A vegan might say “Ah, but you don’t have to kill something to stay alive.” On the surface that might be true, but I would argue that something had to die in order for whatever it is you are eating to have come into existence – if you don’t believe me try farming without using the by products of dead animals and you won’t have healthy crops, you will need the compost and nutrients. I read about a vegan that started her own farm and was flabbergasted to find that her soil needed some bone meal and some dead organics in order for it to have the nutrients it “needed” dead bones. So maybe I don’t have to kill it, but something has died in order for this planet to have so many diverse lifeforms. The myocilin and bacterium take a dead things and makes nutrients. Nothing can survive without something else dying. In the big picture maybe it is because of entropy.
Entropy is the heat caused by chaos or friction in an organized system. All of our systems utilize heat and heat destroys. We shed skin cells because they are being destroyed by the environment. Our organs are constantly having to renew themselves because of cells that get worn out from the friction caused by pumping and filtering or heating and cooling. This entropy ultimately leads to death in all organisms – on this planet anyway.
Our problem might be a lack of understanding or acceptance of death. If death is such a crucial part of life and living, why are we so worried about it? How can we sanctify life and still embrace death? Why do we flinch when in its presence? Why do we work so hard to dodge it? Why are there so many studies on how, who, where, when or why someone or something dies. There are so many data that you can find them from apples to zebras all about how and why they died. I know people that live as though this were a game of whomever lives the longest wins. We are obsessed with not dying. And yet if we won this battle against death, in no time at all, there would be nothing but humans on the planet, you wouldn’t even be able to see the surface of the planet it would be covered with people.
Religious philosophers tell us that God has a handle on all this and God will fix it. Without terraforming planets for us, even God couldn’t prevent overpopulation if no one ever dies, including in heaven. All space as we know it, is limited by its size and since two three dimensional objects cannot occupy the same space, eventually there would have to be overpopulation. This means that death and changing forms is an integral and important part of being in any three dimensional space. I mean we can’t just keep filling up space forever – because space by its definition is limited.
Perhaps this is where the song came from? Since all of these objective thoughts leave me feeling a little crazy. Then I see the world we have created for ourselves and I am blown away at how we are able to feed clothe and house so many people here on earth. I’ve been to India and seen hovels so flimsy and crumbly I was amazed they could stand, I have seen neighborhoods where nothing but castles are built. This diverse wonderland of amazement and creation is a playground where we fill our sand boxes with everything we believe in, then if we believe in it enough we make magic happen. It is truly amazing that we can actually morph reality as we know it.
One of the things I find the most remarkable are the souls that become addicted to power and money. They will launch wars and genocide. They “will into being” myriads of unscrupulous things just to acquire a little more power or money. They even take another human being and put them out onto the curb with nowhere to live just because of money. We will do the most ridiculous and perverse things just for power and greed. This avorice is not just human, chimps do it as do lots of species. They will go to war over territory, food and space – which is power for their dominions. But I reiterate how else would you expect life to behave when something must die to purport its very existence. It is all so fascinating really.
What if the real problem here is we do not know how to resolve this death paradox? Or perhaps the afterdeath dilemma? Perhaps we should just embrace all of it? So many religions and philosophies paint a target on death as the reason to subscribe to their beliefs. But they are using our fear of death or our desire for an eternal reward as a sales pitch for taking on their beliefs. Then others say all we need to do is be at peace with the transition. The later makes the most sense to me which is why Buddhists and Eastern Zen philosophies resonate with my accepting soul.
As I reach an age where death is more and more likely to come calling, I am finding that being a part of a self replicating biological system brings me a lot of peace – I do know that my body, my molecules will just dissolve back into the matter and become a part of something else. However coming from a Christian background I am consistently drawn back into wanting consciousness beyond death, I long for some knowing, not just that my molecules lasting in a system, but my awareness and consciousness do too. Yet there are too many holes in the reincarnation or resurrection or rebirth theories. I will continue to seek peace and live in peace, peace with you and with my death and my insanity. Thank you for reading and listening.
This song is a product of the following story:
My uncle Bob was a bitter angry racist for 60 years of his life. That was the year he came to live with me. One day he used the “N” word at our kitchen table and I told him, “No! Not here, not ever. Your daughter is married to an African American man and I will not let you take the chance that one day your grandchildren are in the other room hearing you use that word. Remove it from your vocabulary if only while you are in my home.”
Fast forward a few years and I walked in after work one day and he was sitting in the living room, with his oxygen tank connected to his nose, and he was weeping. He was watching Oprah, where the great grandson of a slave owner was apologizing to the granddaughter of a slave that was born on their plantation. Of course there was not a dry eye in the house… including my house. Bob looked at me and said: “I have been so blind, thank you, son, for helping me see.”
As fate would have it his daughter was retaking her wedding vows the following month – he had of course missed her first wedding in rebellion to the “mixing of races”. This time he wanted to be there. It was my honor and privilege to take him to her ceremony, where he walked her down the aisle… again, there was not a dry eye in the house.
When athletes began taking a knee during the National Anthem, I was inspired to write the song “Someone Else’s Heart” during the one knee protest of the national anthem. I wrote it because of the empathy I felt for the Black Lives Movement. My empathy is human, it is empirical in its nature because of this story.
When I was 9 years old in 3rd grade we lived in Wilcox, AZ. Our school was an old rickety 3 floor building (it was torn down in the 80’s I think). Our basketball court was a concrete slab raised inside a retaining wall to about 5 feet and it was surrounded on three sided by chainlink and the other side was the building itself. It was a dead end that had no exit gate. I hadn’t realized this until one day…
My mother was a Jehovah’s Witness and as such, she didn’t believe in celebrating birthdays, or any other secular US holidays. Even Easter they changed to be the Passover and never would it fall on Easter Day. So I was not allowed to even be in the room when these school celebrations occured. This marked me as an outsider. The worst of which being that every morning when we recited the pledge of allegiance, I had to remain seated. I didn’t want to, but I was still young enough not to rebel, and I was afraid Jehovah would retaliate or something. Not to mention the lashing my mother would give me. She would whip with a belt while the whole time she would be saying, now remember this hurts me more than it hurts you. Ha!
So being the new kid in school – we had just move there from Safford, AZ – I was instantly an outcast and an outsider. After a few weeks of sitting during the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance, the boys in my class decided to tech me a lesson. As class was let out they screamed “get him” – after all the glares and mumbles since my arrival, I knew it was me they wanted. So I turned left and ran like hell. I ran straight out the door an onto the basketball court. Dead end. No way out. I was trapped. Those sons of cowboys and farmers were not happy with me and they were determined to teach me a lesson. The teachers turned a blind eye to the abuse.
I was once beaten so badly I woke up in the nurses office. Where my bloody nose was left unattended as the nurse treated me like a worrisome nuisance that didn’t deserve her care or nurture. When my mother arrived she was appalled by the nurse’s lack of empathy for a 9 year old boy. So she repeated the lecture I got all during that school year: “Remember all good Christians will be persecuted.”
So I know intrinsically WHY we have a RIGHT not to salute, pledge, stand or place our hands over our hearts. At an assembly of students, they played the National Anthem and when I didn’t place my hand over my heart, later those same boys tried to make me hold my hand over my heart as one of them sand the song. Hence the line in the song: “Never hold your hand over someone else’s heart.”
I post this with love, respect and forgiveness.