Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Coming Up for Air and Broken-down Trains...

I am normally orbiting in the abstract, daydream world where I can theorize or meditate on just about anything. A leaf drifting on the wind means something to me, and I’ve always been all too good about neglecting the menial tasks of life for “higher pursuits” (Just ask my family about this one!).

And though some of us may be completely content with being ethereal, sometimes life on Earth grabs you by your belt loops and drags you back down to the land of the living…

It’s like reality is a really possessive ex-boyfriend, and he wants you back.

As I wrote in my “Forgive Me?” letter last week, life was having its way with me. Which means that I went from thriving to surviving. And when that happens, as you well know, you sort of lose a bit of control, a bit of your sanity. And that means you certainly neglect making time for the quiet time or the time when you come up for air.

But coming up for air is a mandatory luxury, isn’t it?

So what did I do when I stopped coming up for air? Well, I buried myself even further beneath the suffocations of work, household chores, and mindless consumption (Oreos, American Idol, and Entertainment Weekly). But of course you can insert some family dramas, a couple of serious illnesses, and a major readjustment or two between the Oreos and the Entertainment Weekly. Those experiences were the major reasons I turned to the said Oreos (double-stuffed, to be exact). And besides, who doesn’t like the much nicer, kinder American Idol?

All kidding aside, my dry spell meant that my guitar practice and song writing stopped. My novel ceased. My yoga was stuck in child's pose. Even my poetry dried up (insert shedding of tear). Heck, the closest thing to creativity was my sing-alongs to Pandora radio... Until Jack saved me.

That’s Mr. Jack Johnson, to be exact. On one of my many long, insipid days I was listening to Pandora Radio as I was grading one of about 100 English honors essays on cultural conflict in the Middle East and the world at large and the thematic connections in our cannon of literature...

I was frazzled and overwhelmed by the monotonous workload and the dullness in my joints... And that’s when Jack spoke to me. He said he’d been there to… In his song “Breakdown,” Jack Johnson was me…

I hope this old train breaks down
Then I could take a walk around
And, see what there is to see
And time is just a melody
All the people in the street
Walk as fast as their feet can take them
I just roll through town
And though my windows got a view
The frame I'm looking through
Seems to have no concern for now
So for now

I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown

This engine screams out loud
Centipede gonna crawl westbound
So I don't even make a sound
Cause it's gonna sting me when I leave this town
All the people in the street
That I'll never get to meet
If these tracks don't bend somehow
And I got no time
That I got to get to
Where I don't need to be
So I

I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I wanna break on down
But I cant stop now
Let me break on down

But you cant stop nothing
If you got no control
Of the thoughts in your mind
That you kept in, you know
You don't know nothing
But you don't need to know
The wisdoms in the trees
Not the glass windows
You cant stop wishing
If you don't let go
But things that you find
And you lose, and you know
You keep on rolling
Put the moment on hold
The frames too bright
So put the blinds down low

I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I wanna break on down
But I cant stop now

Jack was tired and drained, and he just wanted the train to breakdown so he could stop and smell the roses. He wanted the rushing and the flashing and the hastening to stop so he could just be; he wanted to chill and count his blessings.

And that’s me. Heck, that's all of us! That’s what we all want. And this song reminded me that I don’t need to wish for the train to breakdown so I can come up for air. I need to make it breakdown! So I got to work...

I am still working... And I'll be a work in progress until my last breath. Good thing there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wishing for a broken-down train and that we're entitled to stop and smell the roses of the Universe. Truly, it's a disservice to our humanity when we don't, and it's a disservice to God's miraculous handiwork.

That's the lesson I've learned lately.

So here's to coming up for air and broken-down trains... Here's to going nowhere... Here's to standing still... and just breathing. And thank you, my surfer-hippy-guitar guru dude, for inspiring me to “break on down.” And here's hoping you "break on down" too.

Namaste. ;)

Listen to "Breakdown" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySH9qfLTyaw


  1. I love this. And I needed this. You're writing always seems to coincide with what I need to be reminded of too, which is comforting. It's nice to know that you someone on a completely different life path than myself is experiencing the same situations and struggling with the same issues.
    There is one song that always helps me to remember to get back to me and it's "American Honey" by Lady Antebellum. The chorus lyrics are:
    Ooh There's a wild, wild whisper
    Blowing in the wind
    Calling out my name like a long lost friend
    Oh I miss those days as the years go by
    Oh nothin's sweeter than summer time
    And American honey

  2. fearless,
    I am so happy that what I share comforts, entertains, hits home, whatever... It means a lot, and it's the primary reason why I try to keep this blog going. I just wanna put good things out there in the world, as I know you do too. I miss your blog... But when inspiration hits, please think of guest-posting here! xoxo, me.


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