Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Rum, between, river, alone

Days Between

Thinking about the conversation with k about the hot buttered rum string band got me going. There was a time in college when we would rehearse Shakespeare till the small hours of the morning. Outdoors, Delhi, November. Cold. That's when I got to know S. He wasn't a theater type, really. He wasn't even from our college, he was from across the road. But he'd hang out with us anyway, late at night.

It was he who introduced us to the internal heating device known as rum-and-honey. Take some rum, mix it with some honey. With your forefinger, in the proportions du jour. Preferably in a used Kwality ice cream cup (to cock a snook at nature, as it were). Then everyone gets to dip a finger in, and scoop. Suck in silence, then get thee on stage and deliver thy line, forsooth. We'll save the last go for you.

Funny, but times moved on. S committed suicide the next year. No one knows why. He jumped from somewhere. I wrote a poem for him soon after, at the incredibly banal event of a college festival. The title was Deja Vu, same as a trite Yngwie Malmsteen number that I'd been listening to at that time. The poem won first prize. We all moved on.

I no longer eat honey, and my rum consumption is off ever since I went off cola. But the mention of hot buttered rum, and this recent conversation about happiness, brought me back to S. Standing on the cusp of a new research project about people's lay beliefs about the transience of emotions, this makes me think. Enough research suggests that people adjust to ups and downs in their lives far quicker than they'd ever have believed. What is it about death, then. Many people have died in my life since S -- there was a time when I'd dread the ring of the phone at night (Buddy Guy -- Where is the next one coming from?). Death punches a hole out of you. A part of you stops in time, in a freeze frame, right there. Sometimes you feel as if it's all ended. There's no way forward. There's no way to forget that feeling.

But, strangely enough, a part of you does go on. Life - that word - goes on. A little less rich, sometimes a lot less rich. But go on it does. I think of it as if a person is a fuzzy dust ball hanging in space, with threads reaching out all around, connecting to other dust balls. And each death cuts a line, and a dust ball floats away. And as life goes on, some threads disappear, new ones appear, old friends sit on a park bench like bookends. Silently sharing the same fears. Which brings me back to my conversation with k, and the Black Muddy River she mentioned.

When the
last rose of summer pricks my finger
And the hot sun chills me to the bone
When I can't hear the song for the singer
And I can't tell my pillow from a stone

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

When the last bolt of sunshine hits the mountain
And the stars start to splatter in the sky
When the moon splits the southwest horizon
With the scream of an eagle on the fly

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And listen to the ripples as they moan
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

Black muddy river
Roll on forever
I don't care how deep or wide
If you got another side
Roll muddy river
Roll muddy river
Black muddy river roll

When it seems like the night will last forever
And there's nothing left to do but count the years
When the strings of my heart start to sever
And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And dream me a dream of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
And sing me a song of my own

- Robert Hunter

And in case you were wondering, yes, this tune did come up on the iPod's random rotation, just before I started to type.


Blogger MockTurtle said...

Beautiful writing.
It took me back to a time when I lost several friends in quick succession back in college. Although none were particularly close to me, the experience still knocked the wind out of my sails. It makes you put the transience of your own life in perspective when you realize how quickly people re-establish their normal routines after you are gone.

3/27/2006 5:07 AM  
Blogger wildflower seed said...

Black Muddy River indeed. Keep it happenin', my brother.

3/27/2006 7:06 AM  
Blogger kundalini said...

here's something that a friend of mine, sattva, wrote:

3/27/2006 5:45 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

yes, there's that side to it as well, isn't there? all sound and fury :-D

it was so apt, it was just right.

tx. and urqwxm.

3/27/2006 10:47 PM  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

For once, I'll not mention the music...

About death, you know I have an odd way of looking at it. To me, death signifies a form of closure. Perhaps, this goes down to personal experience but I won't elaborate on this at the moment. Maybe another time.

I can't claim that death doesn't shock me, it does. At times. Of course, I feel sad too. But I find that I don't fear death so much. I'm far more scared of physical and mental suffering. I can handle death, even of those close to me, but it's the suffering I dread.

3/28/2006 2:50 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

that's kind of along the lines i was going too, i guess. i don't think i fear my own death (although that sure might change in a flash with the next visit to the doctor), but i do fear that of close others.

3/28/2006 7:17 PM  

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