John Prine is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. He writes great lyrics. Structurally, his songs are simple. At a concert someone called out the name of a song they wanted to hear, and Prine said that he couldn’t do that one next because it had the same melody as the one he had just played. He tells the story of driving to an audition when he started getting the words and music for a new song. He was working on the song in his head as he drove, and he became concerned because in his head the song sounded like it might require “some kinda weird jazz chords” that he didn’t know. He got to where he was going and took his guitar with him straight into the men’s room. He got the guitar out and started working on the song. And he soon realized, “It was the same damn three chords I always play!”
Sometimes I get to feeling like I’ve moved on. Like I’ve seen a light and got done with something.
And a light that I saw is that I really don’t know which way someone else should turn. Even if I had the power to send someone off in one direction or another, I really have no business doing it. And of course I have no such power anyway. I have no business doing it, because I really don’t know how things will turn out. And things keep turning out and turning out forever. And I don’t get to stop infinity and say, There! Right there! That’s what I was going for!
Can’t do that. Thinking that I know what’s best is a very sketchy proposition.
Also, It’s just barely possible that I might have concern about how I’m going to look if I advise something and it all goes sideways. Of course if the lights all turn green, then I’m looking good.
So, I got it. I caught my ego dealing in other people’s outcomes. Even with my best intentions, underneath I was looking for a return, a little reflection of the light.
I realized I gotta stop thinking about wisdom. I don’t know any more than anyone else. I renounced my lifelong goal of wisdom. That’s right. As a child I wanted to become a wise man.
Cut that one loose.
Mind my own karma.
I’m thinking I’ll just hold the space. I’ll pray that we all see the light. I’ll pray that we all become generous. And fearless. Live lives of grace. I’ll pray that we feed each other.
And I’m feeling freedom. I have moved on a little bit. I don’t have to figure anything out. I’ll just do my job, hold good thoughts and lower my profile. Stay in my pay grade.
I’m breathing easier now.
Hold on. Why am I breathing easier?
A lower profile is harder to hit?
I’ll be admired for my humility?
This is the same damn three chords I always play! I’m still dealing in outcomes. Tried to back out a bit, play it safer. And… Still dodging arrows. Still chasing glory.
I should be very suspicious of progress.
This field can’t be quit until the battle is finished. Dying won’t save me.
The enemy is a phantasm. Hard to identify.
Take a breath. Begin again.