Monday, October 24, 2011

i ain't no k'naan

The first time I heard K'naan's music was in the truck on the way to a day of treeplanting. I had this policy where we had to give everybody's music a fair shake, so even though as foreman I had control over the stereo and even though my little missionary kid ears were tingling from his truly astounding potty language, I let it play.

Eventually - not then, but eventually - I learned to appreciate K'naan's music, and to accept that perhaps a Somali Canadian who'd lived through the ugliness of a war-torn childhood had a bit of a right to make my ears tingle as he struggled to draw attention to issues of social justice; and to express his frustration at how effed-up the world sometimes is.

I think the bit that bugged me most, in my pre-enlightened state (snerk), was the song "Stabbed by Satan."
I don't think I ever stopped to actually listen to the words, but at the time it "sounded wrong," and that was reason enough for me to tune it out on the truck ride to another day of planting hell. Except, it wasn't hell.

Planting was never hell. Not the sort of hell a lot of people live in, daily, worldwide. Like, say, a whole lot of Somalians, who are currently watching their children die at astonishing rates due to a truly horrendous drought. Here is the chorus to that song:

I was stabbed by Satan, on the day that I was born
I was promised lovin', but instead I was torn
La la la, la la la, My heart bled tears
La la la, la la la, My eyes shed tears 


If anybody has a right to express such a sentiment (and with as many potty words as he wants), it's a child of Somali war. I ain't no K'naan.

Still, I sometimes just get so tired of everything. I get tired of rich people pretending to be Jesus while they step on poor people's faces. I get tired of poor people being so desperate they just start stepping on each other's faces. I get tired of shopping malls, and tired of times when people prefer to assert their "right to be angry" about other people's failings, instead of empathizing and loving self-sacrificially. I get tired of the asphalt rivers of black death we call roads that lay in grisly webs all over the good earth.

I get tired of feeling like I suck at every creative endeavor I ever try, and of feeling like I'm never going to amount to anything or catch a break, creatively (which I probably don't deserve, anyway). I get tired of feeling like my dream of working for myself so I can stop driving a car forty minutes each way to work and instead spend a lot more of my time creating things and spending time with my son is just another pipe dream by yet another mediocre guy with illusions of greatness.

And even though I ain't no K'naan, I still sometimes have days like today where after a long, hard journey into night I end up topping it all off by accidentally weaponizing my car into and over a defenseless rabbit on that asphalt river I mentioned earlier.

So I turn around and go back, and I stand there over yet another dead creature for which I am unable to cry (that comes later, when I get home) and I lay him out on the grass and say a prayer and tell him I love him and take a picture - so that at least his death is remembered. I feel again the crushing, horrendous weight of it all and you know what? Sometimes blog posts don't have happy endings. Because you know what... ?

I was stabbed by Satan, on the day that I was born
I was promised lovin', but instead I was torn
La la la, la la la, My heart bled tears
La la la, la la la, My eyes shed tears 




6 comments:

  1. (in case you can't tell, I'm pretty upset)

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  2. It's okay. Life isn't easy and doesn't always end up the way we thought it would.
    -Christina Chyerez

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  3. Josh - your lament reminded me of a passage I just read a couple days ago in Paul Harding's novel "Tinkers". (read it, btw, it's terrific)

    "Your cold mornings are filled the the heartache about the fact that although we are not at ease in the world, it is all we have that it is ours but that it is full of strife, so that all we can call our own is strife; but even that is better than nothing at all, isn't it? And as you split frost-laced wood with numb hands, rejoice that your uncertainty is God's will and His grace toward you and that that is beautiful, and part of a greater certainty, as your own father always said in his sermons and to you at home. And as the ax bites into the wood, be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. And when you resent the ache in your heart, remember: you will be dead and buried soon enough."

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  4. I like that, Darren. I'll look it up.

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  5. Josh, I hope you are feeling more encouraged these days. I came across a great quote from Ira Glass that's been going around, maybe you've seen it - but a bit of encouragement re your art (visual as well as writing):
    http://thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com/2011/10/nobody-tells-this-to-people-who-are.html

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  6. Yes, E. And yes. I caught that quote already, and I am feeling better. An excellent reminder, thanks.

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