Inspection- Chasing the Sun
Both “sun,” and ‘son,’ could work here. That’s up to you. Another break from politics. So intense these days. We NEED a break!
Graveyards mean a lot to me. Other than working for family friends, my first job was at a cemetery, and when I went to college I started grave digging. The economy was tough in the early 70s and the one place job hungry masses rarely went to find work was a graveyard.
I could make some lame joke that they probably thought job opportunities there may have seemed dead, but I won’t do that.
Clever, ain’t I?
When I started touring with my shows I would practice in cemeteries. One year I was practicing for my yearly hometown show in Old Forge, NY. I had to stop practicing because I recognized too many names. Either I knew them, or my family had talked about them. I knew that below me were many family friends, people we cared deeply for, teachers, neighbors and a few I may not even be here without them; like my grandparents. And I also realized when I was very young, lived near New York City, some of that may have been true when I worked at that cemetery too.
It’s a really old city stuck between the dead and the living
So I thought to myself sitting on a graveyard shelf
As the echo of heartbeats from the ground below my feet
Filled a cemetery in the center of Queens
–Chasing the Sun by Sara Bareilles
When I was really young I grew up with some famous people almost in my backyard and had been influenced by them, like Helen Hayes. Like many of us I was clueless when it came to just how much influence other people have, I have, we have.
I never actually met Helen Hayes, but my mother worked for a brief time at what became the Helen Hayes Theater and encouraged me to start acting: now part of my shows for kids. Yet I have never been as impressed with them as perhaps I should have been; not even more historical icons like Lincoln, Washington, King, Martin Luther, Moses, dare I type Jesus? Never met them either, though some days, these days, I feel that old.
They did some wonderful, incredible things, even miraculous. But not one stood alone, not even Jesus. Moses, John and many others blazed the path for Jesus. So many who opposed slavery paved the way for Lincoln’s admitted reluctance. Each and every one stood on the shoulders of others. We all do.
I spent over 30 years traveling the east coast with shows and educational activities for children. I have a lot of people to thank for that from my mother, to the teachers and professors who directed me through musicals, Also: famous folk musicians I sang with when I was young: too young to know who they were. My brother Ted: he literally created a love for music inside me as I played on his bedroom floor when he was studying, Vern Hall, Jim Weber, students and teachers at Town of Webb who helped me believe in myself.
No one will remember me 100 years from now, especially since Millie and I have never had children. Yet the other day I found out that a boy who saw many of my shows writes for Family Guy: a show filled with parody and puns. I’ve had adults and teens thank me for all they learned and how much fun they had. Who knows who else I have helped, influenced, inspired?
Who knows how many people you have helped, influenced, inspired?
My father invented many of the common food products you use today, like liquid coffee creamer. Who knows who else he helped?
No matter how mundane or even tragic your life may have been I’m sure the same is true of you. We never realize how much we influence we have, how much we have helped others. We’re too busy living.
A lot of helping hands helped you than you probably remember. Me too.
School teachers, friends and preachers
Love comes in all shapes, all kinds
Some lovers give romance, some teach, some give a chance
Each memory ages like wine
–Deep in Your Heart -by Ken Carman
There are people we never talked to, never knew, never met who probably have helped us. Influence is a symbiotic, beneficial, virus that passes on from person to person. So when we visit a cemetery we are literal standing on those who helped make us who we are. I know that sooner than most who read this that I will be one more “tombstone brother” that Sara Bareilles refers to in her song Chasing the Sun; even if my wish to be part of a work of art rather than buried is granted.
I started running the maze of the names and the dates
Some older than others, the skyscrapers, little tombstone brothers
With Manhattan behind her, three million stunning reminders
Built a cemetery in the center of Queens
–Chasing the Sun by Sara Bareilles
I originally wrote Deep in Your Heart as a plea for understanding there’s something beyond romance that’s as of much value, if not more sometimes. Or, as I truly believe, it’s all love, just different kinds. “Just friends” is so equivocating, so marginalizing. In many ways friendship is better, that’s why the best lovers are also our best friends.
Recently I rewrote Deep in Your Heart for those who live beyond me so as they move on with their lives they will appreciate ALL who went before more. They’re still with us: with us in who we are, with us in who we will become, in us when we help others.
Close encounters come in all kinds
Especially ones like yours and mine
We may never agree what to feel, what to believe
But that’s all part of learning to love, so you see
Now I have gone away… you can visit me deep in your heart
–Deep in Your Heart by Ken Carman
The good things we do, the love we offer, are only possible through those who taught us, helped us improve ourselves, encouraged us to be better people: to chase the sun.
You said, remember that life is not meant to be wasted
We can always be chasing the sun!
So fill up your lungs and just run
But always be chasing the sun!
–Chasing the Sun by Sara Barielles
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved