try to ground me if you dare.
My wings have been clipped
for much of my life
by those who didn’t care.
Though some claimed to ~
claimed they wanted the best for me,
but they really only wanted
validation or servitude
or perhaps just gratitude, you see.
I’m going to fly now.
My spirit is taking wing.
I’ve done all that you demanded and more,
I’ve heeded your needs
and done what feels like everything.
I’ve cared when no one else did ~
put out a hand to touch ~
been refused, reviled and hated,
celebrated and sometimes even loved,
and was also told I did too much.
I am going to fly now ~
take some time just for me.
Art, music, all the things denied
because there was work to do.
Time to take wing;
set myself free.
You know the feeling ~ when you’re 19 and you know just about everything. You’re all grown up and aware and filled with righteous idealism that the world needs changing and you’re the one to do it. I guess in reality, without youthful idealism, the world would just plod along lazily, slowly sinking into it’s own pointless, yet comfortable indolence. The line between youthful exuberance, and being a realistic adult can be very blurry, to say the least. Somehow so many of us start out to take on the world and wrought change, yet slip away into the lure of the comforts that corrupt us and bind us to some very ordinary status quo.
I made good use of my youth. As with most people of my era, my fondest, happiest memories are of the challenges of making a life for myself. I wanted to learn. I mean really learn... I think it was Frank Zappa who said, “if you want to party, go to college. If you want to learn, go to the library.” I went to college for awhile, but had an even better idea: I’m talking about life, people, reality. I wanted to taste the world as it really was.
As it happened, I got the chance to do that. I’ll borrow here from a post on another of my blogs: When I was a young woman, I hitchhiked much of way across Canada to see some of my country. I wanted to see how the other half lived, but I wasn’t attracted by the world’s richness, such as the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal or even Graceland. I travelled north on the Muskeg Express, a very old train with oil lamps on the walls between the windows, which opened, and the tracks visible when you raised the toilet seat.
I visited several Metis settlements to learn something new about life. And I did. I was right there with the residents when that crate of fruit came in on the train. Oh, it wasn’t the fruit we were anxious for... it was those little paper wrappers on it. Everyone wanted a share of those for the outhouse. Soft.
I was there taking pictures, interviewing, observing. I wanted a photo of the train coming into the station, and I wanted it straight on. So there I was on the track as it pulled in, trying to focus my camera, when I suddenly realized there was a wide angle lens on there, so the train was much closer than it appeared through the viewfinder.
Obviously I survived. There is ying and yang to all reality. Something bad happens; something good comes of it, somehow. Something good happens; the joy is tempered with an unexpected reality. It’s the way of life on this planet. I had packed some spare clothes into my guitar case, under my guitar, spare undies and toiletries in the little compartment, sleeping bag slung across one shoulder, camera case over the other, and off I went. Indeed, I met many fine, kind people whose sincerity and wisdom impressed this young woman.
I was most welcomed by the poor who had little to give but gave it so cheerfully. I remember the loaf of bannock leaning up against a wall, flies having a field day on it, and me thinking, “oh yuck.” I remember the rather diseased chickens, whose feathers were spotty at best, and the old farmer smiling widely as he told how he got them cheap because they weren’t quite right. Then "but oh, what they had wouldn’t harm a human." Then he went to choose one for dinner. After all, they had company, and this called for a chicken. I remember that the dinner of chicken, fried outdoors on the summer woodstove and that bannock, was one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed.
I had fun, I learned eye-opening lessons, I learned that you don’t know people from their background. There is no formula. There is no reasonable way to neatly categorize people, and only the particularly dull of mind even seek to do so. Everyone has their own story. Everyone is as deserving of respect as the next one, no matter they are dressed simply or in snazzy suits. No matter they live in a doorless cabin, or a penthouse. There are good people; there are people who care nothing for anything but themselves. There are people lost somewhere in between. But you can’t tell which is who from a safe distance. You have to get close enough to look them in the eye. And even then, remember that without their story, or indeed, even with it, no one else is in a position to judge them. All one can do is decide if this person is someone who has something to share, teach, impart ~ or not.
At the time I had little to give: empathy, admiration, respect, an open mind and a cheerful enthusiasm ~ something which has always annoyed or even angered some, while at the same time intriguing those of creative mind. I noticed that no one of any fortitude wanted sympathy, but only a deeper understanding of the spirit, and also a grasp of the sheer stubbornness it took to get through life was always appreciated. And when I was willing to give what I had, I was given back what they had: experience, interesting perspectives, wisdom. These, I learned, are the true wealth of being human. Anybody can get money if they’re ambitious and/or ruthless enough. I was discovering something more meaningful. At least, to me.
So, even as John Denver sang Take Me Home Country roads, back country roads led me to the lessons of my youth, and Sweet City Woman by the Stampeders carried me back to the city. Nixon was warming up to China, a young American lieutenant was made a scapegoat of the Vietnamese war, there was progress on the civil rights front, Neil Young wrote Ohio and performed it with Crosby, Stills and Nash after the shootings at Kent State University, and I was looking for a job. Just a job. Regardless of her ideals, a girl’s gotta eat. And that too, is reality.
We are all searching for our dreams, young and old,
future never seen.
We only want what everyone does - acceptance, encouragement,
understanding, empathy ~ concern sincerely meant.
The journey is different; yet the journey is the same.
Some of us take the easy road, some stumble over the rocky lane.
Some of us sing the chorus, some of us the whole song.
Some are looking for truth, others for right and wrong.
We are all of us searching for our elusive dreams.
Or are they searching for us? Is anything what it seems?