In the past few weeks we have been taking a break, sort of, from politics. This week we discuss one of the deepest, most emotional, connections we may have that we don’t tend to share.
“Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long
No matter what I say or do
I still feel you here til the moment I’m gone”
I was hosting a Carman family reunion and we were about to say goodbye. While we waited for the preset time for the barge to leave and take my brother and his family, and my cousins and their kids, back to Stillwater… I, on a lark, played the last song on a Sara Bareilles CD: Gravity.
I saw a change come over them I hardly imagined. We had just been talking about relationships in the abstract: loss and how some love is akin to addiction. It’s actually one of my favorite topics but, until then, I thought such discussion was a bit too personal and too easily filled by the usual family dynamics that come in effect when people who grew up together get together as adults. You know, the dynamics that probably meant when the Einstein reunion happened some family member probably told Albert, “You always were an ignorant immature jerk?”
“…you’re neither friend nor foe
Though I can’t seem to let you go
The one thing that I still know
Is that you’re keeping me… down”
The top was down on our new Jeep and I cranked it up.
Suddenly, as I watched, family members young and old dove deep down inside themselves: almost as if they were possessed. They were living through past moments only they really knew about. I’m sure if they had ever told other family members about them they may have been dismissed or even ragged on. Why? Family dynamics.
We all go through it. We all experience the pain. Falling in love is often a painful experience; even if you marry and stay with your first love. But, to me, the song Gravity isn’t just about that kind of love. I could see it reflecting upon parent/child relationships. People who you will never satisfy, or will even understand you, yet you are drawn back to as if plummeting towards a planet or a bright, white hot sun. The atmosphere may be poisonous, the temperature so cold your heart freezes and it shatters over and over again… or so hot a moth has a better chance with a flame. Yet you: the Phoenix, arises out of the ashes… only to fall again and again.
“Here I am and I stand so tall
Just the way I’m supposed to be
But you’re on to me and all over me.”
Years ago I made a conscious decision, once a relationship falls apart, never to go back again or become “friends.” I did that because, previous to that, every time I returned I only got burned again. In some ways, I regret it. But lessons learned long ago made me realize that I fall far too easy, and never really fall out of love. So easy for the old pain to simply reassert itself, even though those who left me simply can’t understand what all the angst is about.
“You hold me without touch
Keep me without chains
I never wanted anything so much
Than to drown in your love and not feel your rain”
Equally I often relive regrets about how I missed opportunities with my father before he died, or old fights we never quite resolved. Times when I simply couldn’t live up to his expectations. He’s been dead since 88, but I still feel the pull and the pain of such memories: gravity.
“Set me free
Leave me be
I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity”
I think all of us who take relationships seriously and really care deeply go through this. And the fact that it seems so hard to share such experience in sympathy, and understand… without finding fault is such a damn shame. Here’s something we all share: deep, intense, feelings that could bond us together. Instead we just let old patterns and assumptions about each other reassert themselves. We wind each up only orbiting our own personal gravity sinkholes, always ready to crash again.
I have felt the pain. I have fallen again and again and when I return I learn I’ll simply crash again. I thought I was alone in the depth of my feelings.
But we are never alone.
Memory keeps us company: something that provides and paints passion into our lives. And that passion can be more positive if we try to see beyond who we think others are that’s all too convenient, to who they may really be, might, or could, have been. Which, of course, simply starts it all over again, I suppose.
“Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long…”
May we all find comfort despite, and maybe even because, of love lost, or love missed…
…despite the deepness of our own personal abyss.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 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.
Gravity lyrics the property of Sara Bareilles and related publishing companies.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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