“I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning / And go to work each day / And when the evening rolls around / I’ll go home and lay my body down / And when the morning light comes streaming in / I’ll get up and do it again / Amen” – Jackson Browne, “The Pretender” (1977)
The thing I want to sit down and write about most is how beautiful life is. I think this routinely throughout the day.
I’ve seen enough pain and lived through enough fear to know it isn’t always this way.
But I’ve also been struck so many times by the random moments of joy – they hit all the time and they are so simple – to know that life is often beautiful. That you must let these moments pass you through you, embrace them, acknowledge them and hold them in a deep well that you can call upon in times of drought.
Two nights ago, in the midst of a terribly chaotic Monday, I caught an interview on NPR with the musician Jackson Browne. The reporter reminded him of a 30-year-old interview in Rolling Stone in which he, more or less, suggested he loved to sing. Specifically, Browne commented to the interviewer, he loved to sing to women. It made him happy.
To me, Jackson Browne, has always represented my childhood.
My dad had the album Running on Empty on vinyl. And he would sing those songs – the title track, “The Load Out,” “Stay” – at the top of his lungs while he prepped dinner, vacuumed or did some other menial chore. When he sang, when he pulled out the harmonica and set his stand in the middle of the living room to belt out a couple tracks (Christmas music, usually), these were happy times.
All I have to do is hear Jackson Browne, and I am immediately transported back to a place filled with joy … and regret.
Regret that it all shifts so fast; regret that I can’t let everyone – all the people associated with the songs, the moments, the smells and the places wrapped up in my memories – know at every moment that I carry them with me.
That they fill that well I call upon, in good times and bad. A sip here, a drink there.
It’s because of that – because of you, most likely – that you often see me smiling, trying to embrace those around me or offer comfort to those who need it.
The things don’t mean much to me.
But you? I promise. I haven’t forgotten.