Feb 28, 2023 Cold grey day, sleet coming down just as remainder of snow from Wednesday’s blizzard melts.
I thought I might write about something that hit me hard this morning with an undeniable gratitude. Forgive me if I wander… As I lay in meditation with the Morning Session from KMHD trickling in lightly the background as usual, Charles Bradley came on with a cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”, and it set my mind and heart a reelin’. I thought of a life long for a heart of gold, of being that heart of gold for whom one searches. I thought of the difficulty of attaining a heart of gold.
Charles Bradley may have. His cover adapts the foreboding tone of the original song to more of an upbeat, funky syncopation of hopeful endurance. The earnest force of his vocals bolster the listener to wait until the day that that Heart of Gold may be found. Only attaining any recognition for his work very late in life, Mr. Bradley somehow managed to radiate an aura of the most authentic LOVE with which I have some into contact. And come into contact I did with friends Eli and Christina at the end of the summer of 2013, shortly before the Screaming Eagle passed from Cancer. And the powerful love that man brought to the house at the Crystal Ballroom on that night was unmistakable, palpable. I think about it today, and it lifts me. Charles Bradley at 65 years of age and likely riddled with Cancer already urging, pleading with us through his music repeatedly to keep heart and hope searching for love that is our world’s only remedy. Him…doing drop splits on stage like it wasn’t nuthin’. All to entertain us, to spread the love that he could still feel and give still so late in life with so many challenges between him and the relatively few years that he was able to share that glory with his audience. Blows me away.
Then I thought of the author of the song, Neil Young, his performance of the tune in a country (for a Canadian😊) intonation more of disappointment, and in light of the news of late concerning his slide into dementia. Seemingly a thoughtful but salty public persona for most of his career, I wonder why he wrote the song…if he himself had been searching…if he had been disappointed in his search, like many of us. I wondered if he ever felt the love he sought given his criticism of the modern world, much of which I agree with. I wondered if he could feel it now, if it sustained him. My grandfather seemed happiest to me in his last few years of life as dementia released his ever so tight grip on life and his control of it. Though this may not have been the case at all, he sure smiled more at the end than he ever had for the 25 years prior I had known him. He seemed content, worry free with his mind wiped of some of its memory debris. Again, only a perception from the outside of that experience.
I suppose why the cover song on the radio brought me to tears, as I lay in meditation again on the subject of pain for another round of the month long series, is that I have myself been mining for a Heart of Gold, and feeling fairly unsuccessful after many years of effort. I’ve returned to this particular meditation series often in the last 5 years since I took up meditation to cope with acute chronic pain which has plagued me since cervical discectomy and fusion in 1997. As I’ve pondered the notion of universally shared pain and the calming union of this shared experience among humanity again, I’ve struggled to find the intended solace many days, overwrought as I am with exhaustion from continual setbacks and mandatory time outs from disc slippages, pinched nerves, dislocated joints, the kind of pain that makes a man mean. I find myself discouraged with repeated reinjuries which by now I should realize are most often temporary though quite upsetting to any plans I might have made or wish to make. I find myself at times unable to find confident hope in a better future after so many years of searching for remedy and so many disappointments on so many days of this path I travel. Of course I have been talking to someone about these circumstances and the fallout for a while, gathering coping skills to mitigate the emotional strain of physical pain, to lessen my isolation, to enjoy the simple pleasures available.
Nevertheless, a Heart of Gold eludes me.
Having endured a very unexpected injury which surgery actually worsened over the long term and which has required a completely retailored lifestyle, I have taken advantage of resources as they have become available in hopes of improving my situation. I have exerted consistent effort for rehabilitation in Physical Therapy for many years and also on behalf of my mental health in order to calm my mind, to see the beauty and love that persist among the multitude of other horrors in life. Yet, I feel a disingenuousness more often than I would like once I’ve hit my exhaustion point with constant reinjury and the ensuing pain and debility. My thoughts tend to the darker and my words well reflect it. This is not what I wish, but the Heart of Gold seems to know that I have not yet attained worthiness by way of my short fuse and faltering self pity in moments of exasperation. At least more reigned to these vagaries after 25 years of experience, I can only admit my hypocrisy and continue to calmly strive to be that Heart of Gold that’s so hard to find….and I’m gettin’ old.
“I wanna live, I wanna give…..”