You're walking past the Seaview in Hope one recent Saturday and it's perfection in all directions there that morning, 'postcard perfection' - the sun on mountains and grass, the sound of the nearby creek running towards open water, children laughing and running. The windows are up at the Seaview and they are preparing to open, and you are walking with your six-year-old when you hear a song you first heard in Philadelphia on the World Cafe over 20 years ago, & haven't heard in at least 10, maybe 15, and you Realize - you Realize 'so hard', with such import that you have to sit down on a bench outside the Seaview, and you do - you sit down - so that your son asks why you're sitting down, says "Come on, Pop. Let's go" but you can't, in part because you aren't there, you aren't anywhere in that moment - you are only Aware there then as you never could have been at any other moment in your life, of its quiet, wending, and noninvasive Influence on your life. You remember there was a war when you first heard it, and you had questions, you remember the questions, and as with so many of the questions you carried throughout your life the answers only loaned to a deepening sense of isolation, flung your heart further from itself when you tried to smash it through the square pegs of others' consolations and/or resolutions. You had no idea who sang this song. In fact, you were entirely unfamiliar with that extreme end of the radio dial, and can't remember what led you there (88.5 WXPN), but you heard that voice, that baritone - strong and aged as old oak, a calming and stirring presence running entirely counter to the fevered pace of the music you played on the stereo. Here, in Hope, now, you are watching years slip away - no, you are watching distances trip and close in on each other, converge, merge and then vanish. You are in the song, as you were the first time you heard it, alone then, and you are recognizing that the Gypsy Life of which he sings...You took the song at face value - you lived into it. You took it on. You did that. You are seeing and reuniting and embracing the song in ways you never could have imagined you one day would all those years ago - it's an old, distant friend - or a photograph that falls out of a paperback book you nearly donated to the thrift store that draws instant tears. You had not thought of the song in years, not until meeting it again here in Hope, AK - which at this point is an "of course" footnote in your biography, a "Where else?"
So much has changed. And not much at all. Wars and rumors of wars. Ebola (remember reading The Hot Zone behind the cash register at the bookstore job?), Russia and the U.S...
And but we're here.
You might like the gypsy life
Judge your progress by the phases of the moon
Get your compass and your sharpest knife
Cause people love you when they know you're leaving soon
Jonathan J Bower
Musician, writer, father, son, & seeker; sometime-professor, eternal student...