I know not everything is funny, but Paul Simon has a new album and I heard him in an interview this morning talking about how he moves quickly from serious to funny in his writing. It's just the way his mind works. He naturally sees the absurd in things. I love a writer that can turn a phrase that takes me from sad to at least a snicker.
This seems more important these days, being able to shed a little light on things as we sizzle in this frying pan state of the world. One could despair. One does despair. If one is a parent, one doubly despairs. As Patsy Cline once said, "this old world is in a terrible fix."
Paul Simon sings the soundtrack to one of my earliest memories. I was outside my house on a summer night, it was dusk, I was barefoot. Only my feet were chilled by the cold evening dew on the grass. The rest of me was warm and humming with life. I was playing a game with neighbourhood kids, Red Rover maybe. My parent's radio, always tuned to an AM Top 40 station, was blasting Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson out of our kitchen and outside into the yard.
I did that a lot. We all did. Played outside until it was too dark to see or your parents called you in. Whichever came first. My daughter doesn't get to do this. If we lived in a neighbourhood with more kids I would surely endorse it, but alas the children near us are either wee ones or almost grown. I wish she could run wild with a pack of kids like I did, but she can't.
I feel sad about this. This is a deficit in her world. So I try to make up for it. We hike, we camp, we garden, we swing on the hammock in the summer and read books together. Today we went 'forest bathing', the new whacky term for walking through a forest.
I know she'll be fine. I especially know this now, because the kid surprised me two times this weekend with words that turned my despair around.
First, she used a line from Anne of Green Gables to describe how she felt about bringing clothes in off the clothesline. After I thanked her for bringing the clothes in she said, "I like doing it, 'there's so much scope for the imagination.'"
This was doubly pleasing, that she had so aptly quoted Lucy Maud Montgomery and that I had inadvertently passed on my love for this same task. I knew exactly what she meant! We have several wooden steps we have to climb to reach the clothesline. Then when you're up there, you're really quite high up, the wind blows through your hair, you can see out into the tree tops around the neighbourhood. I get a different perspective. when I'm up there. I imagine things too.
Secondly, I was despairing a wee bit when we finally returned the violin we were renting for her. After a lot of years of lessons, recitals, practicing, not practicing, cajoling and power struggles, I finally let it go.
I was having one last lament as we were leaving the store.
"You can always pick it up again later," I said.
"Mom, I've got musicality, but I'm not a musician. It's like, 'I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier.'"
It's true, the kid is musical and again she hits me with a double entendre. A great original line, backed up by the Killers.
Little victories like that can heal the little everyday wounds. Maybe great songwriters like Paul Simon, can take on the big ones.