Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Some folks say that all hope is gone.

The first time I heard Buzzy Linhart’s “The Love’s Still Growing” was in 1999. I remember this, because it was an eventful time in my life: I was 21, and getting ready to graduate college and enter the “real world.” Not surprisingly, the things that formed the backdrop and/or soundtrack to those events carry a particular weight to this day.

In the years that followed, I never heard the song again. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I’d forgotten about its existence entirely, given the fact that hearing it again recently was like a slap in the face. A punch in the stomach. Not because I dislike it, mind you; I actually like the song a lot. And at the time, it really meant something to me. Resonated with me. I listened to it over and over, moved by its simple message of love and hope. “Don’t sweat it, man. Yeah, some things about this world really suck, man. But hey, the love’s growing faster than they are, man. And that’s the thing about love, man: it just keeps growing. And just when you think it can’t possibly grow any more, you know what? It does, man. It does.”

Ah, folksingers. And though I may have been stoned more often in those days than I ever am now, that doesn’t change the fact that, above all things, I was an idealist. I believed ultimately in things like truth and beauty and love. I would not succumb to “Mean World Syndrome,” dammit! I would not end up living my life in fear and bitterness, because as bad as some things would always be, the good would always outweigh the bad; the beautiful would always outweigh the heinous. I was the subject of Bjork’s “Venus as a Boy.” That was me: “He believes in beauty...He’s Venus as a boy...He sets off the beauty in her...He’s Venus as a boy...”

Quite an opinion of myself, huh? But what’s so striking is the way it differs from the way I feel now. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in things like beauty and love, and cherish examples of them when I come upon them. It’s just that somewhere along the line I came to see them as much rarer than I once did. Came to accept them as the exception rather than the rule. Like rainbows. And unicorns.

Last night, while flipping channels aimlessly, I was stopped by an image that sparked a strong feeling of recognition. On the screen was a close-up of a hand reaching out hastily to catch a small, fragile figurine of a penguin, and place it back on a little table full of such tchotchkes... A little glass menagerie. I knew I had seen this before, and it recalled strong feelings of some sort, but it took me a moment to place it: Misery! Ah yes, who could forget the twisted tale of a writer held against his will in the home of a crazed, psychotic fan, and made to suffer all sorts of unpleasant things...

I’d only seen the movie once, back in 1990 when it came out, but as I sat watching it last night (on the oh! network, of all places) it all came rapidly back to me. Much like Buzzy Linhart’s “The Love’s Still Growing.” Only this time, rather than memories of idealism and bohemian beliefs, I was struck by another semi-unpleasant thought. The realization that throughout my life I’ve only ever had a single captor: myself. No obstacles have ever stood in my way, aside from those I’ve placed there myself. No bars have ever enclosed me, except for those I’ve personally forged.

And while the optimistic way of looking at this would be to say, “Hey, what a charmed life I’ve led,” the decidedly more pessimistic, “Goddamn, I’m my own worst fucking enemy,” is what won out at the time.

But hey, what a charmed fucking life I’ve led. Seriously. Chock full of love and beauty. And you know what, man? The love just keeps growing, man.

That’s right. And I’m not even stoned.


Blogger e.e. said...

lol... ahhh, you are a fruitcake, my friend.

But the best part about all of this is that as I was reading your post, I thought, well, one SWEET thing about life is that I met YOU here... somehow, someway, by sheer chance.
And although it is no unicorn or other mystical creation... it is, in itself, a thing of minor beauty.
Don'tcha think?

8:09 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

As a 51 year old long time folk person (among many other genres) I can safely say I have not heard that name in a time frame measured in decades - many decades :)

8:57 PM  

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