Blue, Bittersweet Christmas

I'll have a blue Christmas without you
I'll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won't be the same dear, if you're not here with me
And when those blue snowflakes start falling
That's when those blue memories start calling
You'll be doing all right
With your Christmas of white
But I'll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas
You'll be doing alright
With your christmas of white
But I'll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas
Merry Christmas, baby. It'll be blue without you, always and forever. Imagine if we were together, it's easy if you try. I haven't been singing or playing much since Into the Child, which occupied most of my musical attention in the first half of this year. It seemed like I had reached a peak of some kind and achieved something I never thought I'd do and it felt like a good place to pause. 

Also, I was simply not able to play as much as I could before, spending most of the warm weather living in a tent without a guitar, and since then a bit too busy with very needy students to be able to practice at school. But I am happy that I can still pick up a cheap Spanish guitar and after a bit of practice, be able to play something like All I Want is You, or Blue Christmas, even if they're the only songs I've played since June. I wish I could put in the time to improve, but on the other hand, fuck it. I've learned some chords and I can sing the truth. So, it's Eddie Vedder, Bono, Elvis, Neil Young and ME...what a group of absolute stone cold old man rock stars. Wishing you a Merry Christmas. Peace and love.

Here’s a song and a poem from exactly one year ago today:

Ain't it hard when you wake up in the morning
And you find out that those other days are gone?
All you have is memories of happiness
Lingerin' on

All your dreams and your lovers won't protect you
They're only passing through you in the end
They'll leave you stripped of all that they can get to
And wait for you to come back again

Yet still a light is shining
From that lamp on down the hall
Maybe the star of Bethlehem
Wasn't a star at all

Winter solstice
The shortest day of the year
The longest, longest
Darkest night

Awake at 3am
I heard a bird sing
And looked out to find
The inspirational artificial light

Fooling this creature
Polluting our sky
False hopes and beliefs
It's not singing, it's crying

I remember where we were walking once when you asked,
"What am I supposed to do with these feelings?"
I've been trying to ask you, what did you do with those feelings?
Just passing through?

Awake at 5:30 am, the garbage truck scares the bird away, but it's still almost three hours until tomorrow. The sun doesn't rise until 8.

And seems to be setting the whole gray day.
The shortest day already over, and now comes
The longest, longest, darkest winter solstice night.

Bittersweet Christmas

From The Margilanian.

I suspect that beneath it all is not an acceptance of but the longing for an acceptance of the elemental interplay between darkness and light, beauty and sorrow, mortality and meaning — the longing we transmute into meaning, that great act of creation. Virginia Woolf called this the “shock-receiving capacity” necessary for being an artist — the willingness to see the totality of life, in all its syncopations of grief and gladness, of beauty and brutality, and feel the shock of it all, and make of that shock something that shimmers with meaning. Susan Cain calls it “the bittersweet” — “a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world.” Whitman and Woolf, Carson and Kent, Lincoln and Dickinson were all paragons of the bittersweet.

First awakened to it by a curiosity about her own disproportionate love of music in a minor key, Cain realized that “the music was just a gateway to a deeper realm, where you notice that the world is sacred and mysterious, enchanted even” — a realm we can enter through music or a walk in an old-growth forest, through poetry or prayer. She began seeing echoes of this nebulous yet surprisingly common capacity for noticing in the lives of artists and thinkers she admired — Beethoven and Buckminster Fuller, Rumi and Alexander the Great, but none more exemplary than the creative patron saint of her life: Leonard Cohen.

So she gave that flavor of the spirit a name, then set out to understand it by following a procession of researchers who study its kaleidoscopic facets across neurobiology, psychology, social science. In Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, she writes: The bittersweet is… an authentic and elevating response to the problem of being alive in a deeply flawed yet stubbornly beautiful world. Most of all, bittersweetness shows us how to respond to pain: by acknowledging it, and attempting to turn it into art, the way the musicians do, or healing, or innovation, or anything else that nourishes the soul. If we don’t transform our sorrows and longings, we can end up inflicting them on others via abuse, domination, neglect. But if we realize that all humans know — or will know — loss and suffering, we can turn toward each other.

There is in this notion an echo of Oscar Wilde’s stirring prison letter, in which he resolved to turn his suffering into transcendence; an echo of Beethoven’s resolve to “take fate by the throat” once he began losing his hearing; an echo of Marina Abramovič, who turned a harrowing childhood into raw material for art. At the heart of it all is an inspired inquiry into “transforming pain into creativity, transcendence, and love,” posed with sensitivity to the realities and varieties of pain we live with, not all of them easily mutable into a poem or a painting or a song.

Blue, Bittersweet Christmas

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