I love music that has a sadness that burns with this kind of optimistic intensity. But Burning Hearts does it for me.
I used to walk up and down Clay Road. Do you need a map? I don’t know how many times I made this trip. I have been thinking about this walk for a couple of days. There were various reasons that I made the trip so often, but really the walk was probably more important than the destination. I usually define most of my experiences in the dramatic context of events. “This tragic event happened…” “We went here and did this…” When really the reality of day to day life has nothing to do with events. It’s all about movements of people.
I had friends that were on the east end of the journey. And there were stops to make along the way. Places that I had some kind of business to take care of one way or another. But I know my reasons had nothing to do with this. I would spend an hour, or sometimes more if I made stops, walking to visit with people for less than 45 minutes. Then I would turn around and walk home.
There was something about the movement of walking that actually felt good. Much of my teen years were just a sort of deperate loneliness. I found it hard to breathe at home. Things weren’t necessarily bad at home. There was drama there. But none of it fully explains who I am or how I got that way. I have always been sort of a brooding character. My big question has always been, “Why are we here? What’s the purpose?”
Existential questions used to make me feel completely isolated. Motionlessness made me feel stifled. I could think and contemplate and feel like I was getting somewhere when I was walking, or at least outside. So I would invent places to go. And then I would go there. And when I got there, I would invent another reason to seek a new destination. Just keep moving. A big part of my identity was tied up in this, and I truly miss it. I miss driving around the country. I miss walking for 5 to 10 miles on a whim. Running does it for me a little bit. But really it no longer does the same thing. I can’t feel as constricted and repressed as I did then. So the release isn’t the same.
Despite being dirty and sweaty by the end of that trip, I would sit in the bayou for as long as I could to avoid having to go home. The bayou was just a tributary of the larger bayou system. There was a small cement part that made sort of a half pipe (maybe a one third pipe) where we would skateboard,hang out, smoke and wait for trouble to find us. I would sit in the dark leaning back on the inclined cement still warm from the day and feel my muscles tingling.
Sometimes in motion I can catch glimpses of myself in the universe from a distance. I can feel the global spherical nature of the ground I am walking on. I can see myself as a spec of dust on a giant ball of debris in a mostly empty universe with billions of stars and trillions of existences and experiences as meaningful and precious as my own. For a second I am not alone. For a burning instant I feel all the hope of life and all of the sadness of the gaping distance between me and everything else.
In my adult life, I can miss everything. Sitting at a desk. A computer. I forget that in motion life is in a completely different context. I lose my color vision and I see the world in shades of grey. If I stay there long enough, I start to think:
“What does one need color vision for anyway?”
I Lost My Color Vision really sort of leans these concepts against each other for me. There can be a real joy in depression. Really, walking up and down the street in the burning heat is no solution to feeling isolated. But it’s a “…rainbow on the wall…” in an otherwise hopeless existence. I really miss being depressed.
“You planted some flowers on the same spot I’d been planning to drop a nuclear bomb.”
I can see the stars above my head as I walk in the grass on the side of Clay Road, there are no sidewalks. I know the stars weren’t there. The glow from the city lights tends to block them out.
“I have all the right to feel blue if that’s what I’m into.”
I can feel the smoke in my lungs as I’m lying on the warm concrete in the bayou. It’s warm and dark.
“No colors can change my mood.”
I walk home and wonder whether I’ll be able to sleep.
“You painted a rainbow on the wall.”