ALCHEMY OF WORDS
ALCHEMY OF WORDS
the hidden world
Music is known for its mysterious ability to unlock memories that have been secreted away for years. Somehow it has access to a portal that leads to a hidden world. But that’s not where the mystery ends. With just a few lines, a songwriter can tell us many stories. And it’s uncanny how often they seem to be about our own lives.
Let me show you an example. Because I don’t want to alter your own stories of one of your favorite songs, I chose something a little obscure: the Elton John song Come Down in Time (lyrics in bold):
In the quiet silent seconds
[I believe in jazz. I believe that the space between the notes is more important than the notes themselves. I believe in the in-breath. I believe in the power of silence. I believe in the importance of friends who do not have to talk to understand each other. I believe that less is more. And that the most powerful writing lets the reader fill in some blanks.]
I turned off the light switch
[One of my favorite poets, John O’Donohue, reminds us that the soul likes candlelight. And that it’s best not to use bright lights when seeking to know ourselves. For me, darkness is also comforting, seductive even.]
And I came down to meet you
[I believe in bridges. I believe that the meeting of two beings, even though it happens every day, all day, and we mistake it for something commonplace, contains all the mystical metaphor of life. Everything in the universe is constantly in motion. And everything (ourselves included) is constantly crossing a magic threshold, towards recognition, towards awakenings, towards oneness.]
In the half light the moon left
[There is no such thing as the half moon. And yet this metaphor is everything. We are all whole. And yet we mostly do not see this. And while the moon, like everything in the universe, has its own light, the light we mistake for its own is actually a reflection of something else. And the moon not only casts light, but shadows. Just like us.]
While a cluster of night jars
[I had to look this up, long ago. Nightjars are nocturnal birds. They have very small feet and so spend most of their time flying. I just love the way the words sound. There is something enchanting about them I can’t explain. Which is another reason to love it. Our desire to explain so many things, instead of simply feeling them, is part of our folly.]
Sang some songs out of tune
[We put too much emphasis on voices being pretty. What a shame if Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, or Neil Young had decided not to sing. Heart is far more important than technique.]
A mantle of bright lights
Shone down from a room
[Light can come from anywhere. And everywhere. Like the importance of silence, this phrase let’s us fill in the blanks. It could be a literal upstairs room. Or the room could be the sky. And the mantle of lights the stars.]
Come down in time I still hear her say
So clear in my ear like it was today
[Memory is a mystical thing. Songs, smells, words, sounds, and places all have the ability to transport us back in time. And time is an endless enigma. So much time elapses, and yet, no time at all has gone by, like it was today. And longing can bend time -- both backwards and forwards -- as deftly as any force in the universe.]
Come down in time was the message she gave
Come down in time and I'll meet you half way…
[Even though we are constantly interacting with one another, it is rare that we really meet. We must be present, in the flow, and so grounded that our own gravity lines up the stars. We must meet each other, opportunity, love, and beauty at least halfway. We must build these bridges together. We must remind each other of the oneness inside every split-apart in the universe.]
Be well everyone.
Stay in your magic.
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