There’s a guy who jams out on his electric guitar a few days a week on the subway platform where I wait for my ride home from work. He has a sparse, bluesy style that makes me wonder if his primary instrument is actually the bass. Usually if I recognize any snippets from his playing it’s the Beatles, or maybe the Stones, but last week he busted out some stupendous Herbie Hancock:
He had his own take on the opening bass line, then worked in the guitar and sax lines on top (but left out the keyboard), keeping impressions of them all going at once. All this in his signature style with no whiff of funk about it whatsoever—no wonder it took me a while to realize what I was listening to.
I should really tip that guy more often. It takes some genius to take something so distinctive and make it utterly your own.
I’ve been listening to Headhunters a lot since then. It sounds like summer to me—summer in the big, badass city.
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself.
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detatched, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them.
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
It’s so easy, when the going gets tough, to neglect your web and let it fall into tatters; to get so caught up in your problems you neglect the people, institutions and practices that could give you the support you need, at the very time you need it most.
I would do well to remember the little spider, painstakingly tending her web so that it will capture nourishing morsels to sustain her.
“For all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world”
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata
I started this blog to remind myself of the truth in this statement. Sham and drudgery haven’t been much of a problem for me since I left an unfortunate employment situation a while back, but for last several years broken dreams have cast their shadow over my personal life. I’m working on cauterizing my wounds, cutting off that which can’t be repaired and nurturing that which can, but I have a long way to go and need to bolster my spirits for the trip.
I’ll begin by gathering up and cataloging things that, in one way or another, have been meaningful to me: beautiful things, sublime things, unexpected things, preposterous things. Things that make me smile or take my breath away; things that put me if a state of mind to make the world a better place, if only in a small way. Things that remind me that “for all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”