Autumn breeze in Iowa…
Autumn breeze in Iowa…
I’ve watched Lucinda Williams’s 1989 performance of “Side of the Road” hundreds of times. The song is built around a simple metaphor: Williams is driving down the road with a loved one, and happy to be driving. Still, she wants to pull over to the side of the road and stand there by herself. “I want to know you’re there, but I want to be alone,” she sings.
If only for a minute or two, I want to see what it feels like to be without you.
I want to know the touch of my own skin
Against the sun, against the wind.
I walked out in a field, the grass was high, it brushed against my legs.
I just stood and looked out at the open space, and a farmhouse out a ways.
And I wondered about the people who lived in it,
And I wondered if they were happy and content.
Were there children, and a man and a wife?
Did she love him and take her hair down at night?
If I stray away too far from you, don’t go and try to find me.
It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it doesn’t mean I
won’t come back and stay beside you.
It only means I need a little time
To follow that unbroken line,
To a place where the wild things grow,
To a place where I used to always go.
~ Lucinda Williams, Side of the Road
~ Joshua Rothman
It’s amazing what storms
your face can hide,
what terrible wrecks can writhe
and heave beneath,
without one ripple on the surface.
— Jenny Valentine, Double
From Kate Murphy, NY Times, No Time to Think:
ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore. When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter.
And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device.
Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.
It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.
It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.
Photograph of Prothonotary Warbler by Bill Stripling
I mean forget about success for a while, get yourself an ordinary job, an ordinary place to live, and live without worrying about what Americans call, in uppercase, the Future.
~ Florence King