Born At The Right Time – Paul Simon – 1990

Getting back into writing after everything that has happened in the last two weeks has been ridiculous.  Where do I pick up?  What do I say about how profound everything has been?  Or do I just ignore it all and write as if nothing has happened?  There no way to ignore it all.  I feel like I live on a different planet.  I feel reborn.  I know things about myself that I never knew before.  I know things about the world that I forgot.  That I keep forgetting.

“Down among the reeds and rushes.”

I was forced to confront my limits in a corporate environment.  I realize now that there are some things I can’t do no matter how much you pay me.  I also know just how much my family means to me.  I know how important my children are to me.  I know what I don’t want to miss.  I know at which point I will lay down my life for another.  I know what brings me to my knees.  I know how little I really care about the events of the world.  I know how small the universe is…

“a baby boy was found.”

So I spent days searching for the song I was going to use as my entrance back into my daily writing routine.  But it was very difficult.  And it wasn’t coming to me.  Meanwhile, our baby was born.  I reconnected with my son.  As his trust grew, his arms thrown around my neck took on a deeper significance.  It isn’t that we grew apart.  It’s that he was obviously starting to feel a little rejected by everything that was happening to us.  Hospitals, a sibling is born, cousins going away, a different person to spend the afternoon with every day.  I vowed that I would never let my children feel this way.  I worked for years to overcome my own feelings of rejection.  His little arms around my neck is a catharsis.  A giant ‘Yes!  I am not going anywhere.’

“His eyes as clear as centuries.”

And I am left wondering about life.  There is so much of it.  There really is.  Everywhere you look there is life.  Even when considering larger systems – the world, countries, corporations, political groups, the universe, social cliques, hospitals – everything takes on the characteristics of life.  Sometimes only because we humans are observing and participating in the fate of all of these things.  Everything is alive with our dreams and aspirations.  Everything exists in the numinosity of our intent.

“His silky hair was brown.”

We breathe life into everything.  We take a rock and hold it.  Our warmth changes it.  The rock is personified by our simplest actions.  Everything the rock does is new and significant.  The rock is separate and the same.  And I can’t help but think how much we do without knowing it.  How much of the raw power of life we breathe into things we consider inanimate and lifeless.  From meaningless drudgery to our most profound dreams.

“Never been lonely.”

And when we have children, we take the opposite view for granted.  That which we consider full of life is full of life because that is what is natural.  I see it now as the same as the rock.  We are breathing life into something inanimate.

“Never been lied to.”

If we leave life to itself, it fails.  But when we stoop down and dig our fingers into the muck and pull it close.  Share our warmth.  Trust in its existence.  Hope with everything we have.  Love like we have never loved.  That’s life.

“Never had to scuffle in fear.”

Like a musical instrument.  You can play and play and it can mean nothing.  Just some sound events arranged over time.  But at some point as a musician, you learn to breathe life into the instrument.  The same thing happens with writing.  Everyone knows the difference between just getting by and the breath of life.  There is no lesson for this.  And sometimes, we spend our whole lives unable to be affected by even our own most important moments.

“Nothing denied to.”

It’s so easy to miss all of this life.  It’s so easy to be an inanimate object in our own lives.  Not seeing how much life we affect.  How the rock lives.  How the lives around us are dependent on our intent.  The deeper significance of our lives is us.  We aren’t waiting for anything or anyone.

“Born at the instant the church bells chimed.”

It’s all right there.  The next right thing.  The outcome.  The conditions.  Even under the worst circumstances and the best.  We are part of a giant miracle.  An epic illusion so rooted in faith and love that we can’t even begin to separate ourselves from its origins.  Life is enormous.  And it has no edges or seams.  It can’t be defined or categorized and nothing can be removed or added to it.

“The whole world whispering born at the right time.”

So I decided on this Paul Simon song which holds a special significance for me.  Especially with my son.  Although the song came out over a decade before his birth, I didn’t discover the song until we were in Hong Kong.  And what can you say about a Paul Simon song.  Especially when he gets it as right as he does on this song.  There are so many to choose from.  I thought about him earlier and I was sure I would write about Graceland.  My mother gave me Graceland at a time when I was sure she knew nothing about me.  At the time I knew nothing about Paul Simon, and as a teenager, I was sure this was a dumb gift.  But Graceland became one of the most important pieces of my teen years.  And while there was a deep chasm between us in so many ways, this was a clear message to me that she did know who I was.  “Poor boys and pilgrims and families and we are going to Graceland.”  And Born At The Right Time is kind of the same story, but it holds a special significance for me about my son.  He is a living metaphor as we all are.  Our significance should not be lost on us.  And somehow Paul Simon reached for this emotion and captured it.  And I can see my son as a toddler dancing in our Hong Kong apartment with his total lack of self-consciousness.  So intent on living.

“The planet groans every time it registers another birth.”

So I have been at the hospital almost every night holding my daughter.  Feeding her sleepy mouth.  Vibrating her tiny body with my giant voice.  Humming a Dean and Britta song as a lullaby.  Her sleepy eyes look up at me like an alien.  A giant question.  She is too small.  She asks, with those dark blue eyes, if this is all worth it.  Is the world – with all its suffering and callousness, uncertainty and disappointment – all that great a place?

“But down among the reeds and rushes the baby girl was found.”

And I don’t know if it is worth it all the time.  But I do know that my two experiences with birth.  Watching countless participants breathe hope and love and … life into this tiny helpless ball of energy.  And it is so unorganized.  And we all pray to whatever we pray to.  We bring all of the mysticism of science and religion.  And we crawl around in the mud.  Digging our fingers into parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed.  We are reborn in this experience.  And nothing and no one is the same ever again.  The whole universe changes.  And all of the beauty that we spend all of our lives hiding from ourselves is revealed.

“Her eyes as clear as centuries her silky hair was brown.”

There is so much that can’t be said.  So many words to finally reveal that I can’t tell you.  It’s more than just moments.  It’s more than just knowing.  It’s more than just an emotion.  Or a smile.  Yes it’s all worth it.  And when you grow up and read this, you can tell me if it was worth it.

“The whole world whispering born at the right time.”

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2 thoughts on “Born At The Right Time – Paul Simon – 1990”

  1. I love, love, how you incorporate a song into what you’re writing and feeling. Or how you found a song that so well goes with everything in your life right now. I really enjoyed reading about Iggy, I found myself smiling a heck of a lot just thinking about the little guy.

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