Had a great party tonight – now I am sitting quietly by the Christmas tree – in just the glow of the lights, and this time the moon is present, sinking so quickly in the bright clear sky. Here is a piece that came together easily tonight – I had written most of it in two parts in my head – for years – but I knew they always went together – just found the right glue tonight….
Fathers, Coffee, Journeys, and Soul Cages, Dec 27th
Fathers – my father is great – only a few pieces of advice that I didn’t take and follow in life – the rest I took in – listened and then decided whether it was pertinent or not to my situation – but best piece of advice was something like this: “no matter what a person does or has achieved – the worth of a person can be measured by whether you can sit down with them and have a cup of coffee” – meaning they were worth something to the world if they were someone you could talk to – one on one – someone who was real and someone who took the time and listened. My father has met millionaires and poor folk – Carl Sagan (not impressed) and the Dali Lama (impressed) and countless normal everyday folks through his service club and work and Boy Scouts and life. Doesn’t matter who you are – none of that counts – unless you can sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone.
He met Princess Fergie of England one while we were in Niagara Falls – he called out “How’s the water?” she said it would cool you off! (impressed – a real person in an unreal situation that then was played out on TV). Bet he would have loved to have a cup of coffee with her – to listen to her story and her issues…
I don’t like drinking coffee but I like the concept of coffee – of sitting down to have a chat – I don’t get to do that much – but I try to clear other things off my plate to do that once in a while…can I be my father? I am like my mother and busy busy busy – and get things done – I need to be more like my father and take the time – the important time to talk.
Our fathers are there to protect us and give us advice – the ones we need to hear from to dispel the vast amounts of knowledge we need to proceed through this journey of life… Unfortunately for some others their fathers (and probably many men) are stuck in what one of my favorite musical artists, Sting, wrote about in “Soul Cages”…Sting was dealing with his own father and his rebellious drive to leave his town and his existence and start a new separate journey… Later Sting wrote a follow up album and musical, the Last Ship, again dealing with these “Soul Cages “in the journey of life.
Maya Angelo, one of my favorite writers, penned “I know why the caged bird sings”. I am not a reader but after you read her book – there are probably few other authors that could compare – in content, meaning – and that you could take to heart. Her journey was long and hard – anguish and joy – more life and experiences than we will ever journey through ourselves… she wrote it in the year I was born – a harsh life that caused her to write – caused her to seek release of her torments. The book itself is a coming of age story and deals with subjects that are not easy to speak of – and as a teen reading the book, it is filled with all those taboo subjects that you don’t get to experience because your life is so smooth sailing compared with hers… I was shocked that this would be required reading — brave of my school district in the early ’80’s to make us read such worldly books like this and Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”, and George Orwell’s 1984. oh so eye-opening in so many ways.
Another Maya Angelo book – “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now” is a fitting title in that she wouldn’t have been such a strong woman (late in life) with a strong message of the importance of your life’s journey – if she didn’t struggle so much. This book, by Maya Angelo, was in front of the one I was looking for – I felt obligated to take it off the shelf and so I opened randomly right up to an essay about exactly what I was feeling at that moment I was looking for the other book… (that’s another essay later that I might write). that essay talked of one of the most important journeys in life.
Journeys – Soul Cages –
Sting, has been on a journey recently – he has written a Broadway musical that deals with lost relationships – especially with his own father – it deals with death and with coming to terms with loss. “The Last Ship” is a follow-up to his “Soul Cages” album – it follows the return of a son who leaves his father and dying shipyard industry…turning his back on not only the lifeblood of the town but a woman who unknowingly will bear his child. it deals with a mother’s angst, and a woman’s choice of whom she will love, a son who finally meets his biological father – but acknowledges his adoptive dad is his “real father”, and lastly it deals with death – when the last ship sails, so to speak. I had the pleasure of seeing this musical recently with a dear friend. (songs from it at https://youtu.be/TbMY9lf58FA)
Sting writes in “The Last Ship”: “when the last ship sails… whatever it was that you come to be here… it’s the sum of your hopes your despairs and your fears…whatever you promised whatever you’ve done and whatever the station in life you’ve become… in the name of the Father and the name of the Son… and whatever the weave of this life you have spun… on the earth or in heaven or under the Sun… when the last ship sails….”
“Soul cages” refer to the forced or deliberate caging – blocking – your own soul.
“I know why the caged bird sings” and “Soul Cages” were always linked to me – two artists – convergent evolution or just a common theme because of a common life condition – keeping your soul in a cage…
Sting writes in “The Language of Birds” :
“Your old man had a cage for his pigeons,
But that’s really where he kept his soul,
And when he watched them fly he would see himself,
Least that’s how it was told.
“But his soul was still trapped in the cage son,
While the birds they soared to the sky,
But he couldn’t find his own way out,
Least not ’til the day he died.
“Oh, a man builds a cage with the tools he is given,
His casket is sealed with a riveter’s gun,
This solitary madness is where he is driven,
It was him who was trapped in the soul cage son,
It was him that was trapped in the soul cage.
I know that he loved you, but he hadn’t the words,
He’d be easier speaking the language of birds,
For to speak of emotion, it just wasn’t done,
It was him who was trapped in the soul cage son,
It was him that was trapped in the soul cage.”
It’s a set of albums (Soul cages, and the Last Ship) I would recommend to anyone trying to deal with their own thoughts of their fathers – as well as a seeing the musical in person. Sounds somewhat silly, as I don’t know Sting personally, but I am very proud of Sting for coming to terms with his father and his relationship and his roots – for returning to appreciate all that was there – even though he saw and escaped his father’s world as a dead end world – dead man’s boots.
It is hard when we don’t allow people “to speak of emotions, it just wasn’t done” – especially men and fathers – and sons… Women speak of emotions ALL THE TIME. We – or at least I – sort out our emotions by talking – this writing is a way to get it out without being considered “over-emotional”. The hardest thing to see is when a man or a woman is robust- full of life – and then hits a bad stretch – those who are emotionally stuck – too many soul cages – not enough keys to open the doors – not enough freedom to speak… Many at the end of their lives would probably be proud to say “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now” – and yet the soul cage is built and locked and many don’t let themselves to workout all the emotional details along the way – it’s the journey of life –
Life is a journey – not a destination….
Stop, sit down, and have a cup of coffee with someone.