Sunday, November 11, 2007

What happened to Sunday?

I lost it somewhere, that's what.

Never went for a walk. Never even went outside, not for a minute. I didn't even take a shower or get dressed; I'm in the same sweatshirt and Levi's I put on this morning.

I went back and worked on the story that's freaking me out so much. It still seems, well, marginal to me. Part of me is absolutely certain the editor will like it, while another part thinks she'll find another story to run in its place.

Something, as Miss Clavel famously said in the old, old Madeline stories, is not right.

I came across a recording today. It's exquisite, unforgettable Billie Holliday singing one of my favorite ballads, Alec Wilder's heart-wrenching I'll Be Around. The melody, and the lyrics -- which I posted here some considerable time ago -- still reach right into my heart. To some extent, they are my story, at least when it comes to relationships.

Maybe I should put that last word in quotation marks. I can't honestly say I've ever had a real relationship, at least if longevity is a factor.

What makes this recording particularly poignant is that it was made in 1958, very close to the end of Lady Day's career. And her life. At times, you can still hear the soaring beauty of her voice. In other places, you can hear the toll drugs, booze and plain ol' hard living took on her.

That makes me wonder: is there a point at which those who have talent should fold their tents and vanish into the night? Should the performances continue when the tools are no longer sharp?

Granted, there are plenty of wannabes and almost-ares who have skill, and they go on and on, never reaching the top, and never quite deserving to. They work at it, and bring pleasure to small audiences in small towns, all the while dreaming of the Big Discovery when someone promises them stardom and delivers.

If I am in either group, it is surely the latter. But I know people in my own area, immensely talented people, who have continued on long past their prime. I have watched their gifts deteriorate, have seen them lose interest while still grinding out the product.

At this moment, it would not break my heart if I never wrote another word to earn a living, such as it is. I've said all I can think of to say, am in fact repeating myself more often than I like.

If a true, once-in-a-generation talent like Billie can end up performing with an unreliable sense of pitch and cracking, hoarse voice, how much more pathetic is it when those who never shared the equivalent of her ability keep plugging along?

To be honest, I think loneliness is behind much of this in my case. Never mind the bright moments, the feelings of being closer to having -- and doing -- what I want than I normally think I am. They count, but don't last. When one warm, unforgettable moment is followed by interminable hours of scuffling for an undefinable result, it causes confusion. Do I believe the good, or the endless drudgery?

Something is not right, indeed.

I wonder if it ever was right, or ever will be.

Some people should never have been given the trait of introspection. I think I'm one of them.


John said...

I'm with you on that introspection comment.
I have to believe people can affect change in their lives. The trouble with introspection is that it thrives on only one viewpoint, and often that tends to rigidly insist on things being black or white when gray is more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

My problem is that I think too much, and it gets me into trouble.