Mud or Jasmine, or, shouldn’t I know how to say this by now?

jasmineThis is about the life of my feelings that—were I a brilliant artist of some sort—I should be, but am not, able to create in a way that you’d understand without my having to be explicit. A painting, a short story, a chorale prelude for organ (except Brahms as pretty well exhausted that possibility). Something you’d find beautiful but not quite be able to pinpoint why it’s expressive or what feeling it’s about.

Something more noble than public kvetching. If you don’t want to hear about one person’s (pretty minor in the great scheme of things) difficulties, don’t read any further.

Yesterday I practiced the organ for two hours at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church where I will play the 11 AM service in the chapel on one of my favorite organs today. On the way to the church, I stopped at FedEx and made photo copies of the hymns so I won’t have to lug the fat hymnal around.

Therein, of course, hangs the tale. I did that because it’s ridiculously difficult to carry the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 accompaniment book walking on crutches. Those damned things were supposed to be outta my life by yesterday. They’re not. Day after tomorrow? If the PT says so. What a bother. My hip feels just fine (that’s a lie, but no one needs to know how it feels because everyone is sick of hearing about it, and—I think I’ve discovered—many people simply don’t want ANYONE, especially someone they like/love to be incapacitated).

The FedEx store didn’t open until 10 AM on Saturday, and I got there at 9:50 and had choices about what to do. So I waited, and then it took 30 minutes hobbling around to do the copying. So by the time I got to the church it was 10:30, whereas I had intended to be there at about 9. My own fault, obviously. You don’t need to point that out.

The practice was difficult. It’s been more than a year since I played a service. My hands are stiff from holding me up on the damned crutches, and the organ’s pedal board is flat so one has to stretch legs (even the one of which one is under doctor’s orders not to flex) sideways to reach low and high pedals.

I was feeling out of sorts—mainly because I wanted someone to at least commiserate with the way I was feeling, if not fix it.  I was feeling impossibly alone even though a friend had dragged me fewer than 12 hours before to see one of the finest movies of the year, “Mud,” starring Matthew McConaughey.

Yellowstone mud?

Yellowstone mud?

Now there’s a work of art that grandly explores the kind of small feelings I was having: loneliness, fear, unrequited love, physical difficulty, and frustration at the inability to accomplish a goal. Grand explorations of the (petty or simply insignificant?)) feelings I was having.

And then last night I saw “Blue Jasmine,” starring Cate Blanchet. The same feelings, the same angst, but with the twist that, while Mud accepts his responsibility for his impossible situation, Jasmine does not.

Of course, in neither case are the lines so clearly drawn. Responsibility, limitations, and damned bad luck get all intertwined with the actions and )limitations of others—especially the ones we (I, at any rate—don’t know about you—and Mud and Jasmine) love and want to be able to count on. Then, of course, there’s one’s own psychological and emotional and neurological make-up to contend with.

There’s a very real sense (and this is so commonplace I don’t know why I even bother to write it down, much less share it with you) in which the whole problem is that I (we, you and I) don’t want to be alone. Never mind all that stuff about how we were born alone and we will die alone.

While we’re here, we don’t want to be alone. And if we do want to be alone, we’re probably missing out on some aspect of being Homo sapiens that helps make sense of being here at all. When I feel joy, it hardly seems real or important if I can’t share it. And when I am frustrated, angry, frightened, or sad, if I can’t make a real connection with someone, it just gets the better of me.

???????????????????????????????To some degree that’s what both Mud and Jasmine are experiencing. And it’s what I was being overwhelmed with yesterday. I’m luckier, perhaps, than either of them. I get to go over to that big church and participate in the Holy Mysteries—no, silly, not the Eucharist! The MUSIC—and do that thing that I can always (yes, always) rely on to make a connection. Make a little music. It’s better when there is (are) someone (someones) to share it with that I really know and love, but even the connection with strangers will do.

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