blues by the hand

by tobias crabtree

i’m sure it’s already been said. all of it. the things explaining the things. the words used to paint the pictures that make us feel, they’ve been laid out in fancy form and are set in some beautiful font in the library of wonderful words. i am building sandcastles at the foot of the taj mahal. i am folding paper airplanes in the museum of flight. i’m carrying sea water in a bucket and filling a hand-dug hole on the shores of the pacific. what else am i to do? how else to let loose the birds in my brain? i tell myself it’s ok to say it in a squeakier, smaller voice, because it can’t hurt. i have to believe that, i just have to believe that it’s ok to write even if it feels like i’m running with my pants down around my ankles.

ok, i got that said.

i’m glad i can’t see into the future. i’d probably take more risks if i could see the future. i’d probably believe less in what might be if i just try hard enough. i’d probably quit playing the guitar (playing takes so much of my concentration that i sometimes drool on the frets) and picturing myself singing to my friends and making them smile with delight. there’s a lot of things i might give up on if i could see the future. if i could see the future i don’t know if i’d try and dodge the blues or not, but either way it would seem false.

i stood above some train tracks on the bluffs in north portland last night. i could hear some teenage girl talking about how her boyfriend is not good at sex and how she’s ready to break up with him. the teens were all sitting and sprawling in the grass overlooking the train yard. every now and then a car would cut loose and go trucking off down the track like a headless chicken and the kids would cheer,  happy for it’s freedom. seems like there is always a desire for anarchy amongst the people who feel most controlled. the idea of everyone running around screaming with their arms flailing is better than being in a straightjacket and tied to a wall with someone peering into your eyes with a light and muttering some unintelligible medical jargon. i’m not so into anarchy, i might be into revolution, as long as it lead to quiet oceans and less cars and less walmarts and less prisons and less old bald guys in washington making up idiotic rules that apply to the people but do not apply to the rulemakers. yeah, i’m into a revolution that allows damns to crack up the middle so the rivers may stretch their legs again. i’m into allowing scientists to apply their beautiful brains to making us understand how to use less instead of how to do more with less effort. my kind of revolution would want to see the youth fighting for a return to an older, wilder, better form of unity that doesn’t need a like button or a hashtag. more dancing in the starlight and feeling the power of the earth as it meets our feet and tells us to look around at our fellow creatures, not just the two-leggeds. but yeah, that’s where i was last night after the sun set. i was there with the teen to my right and her stories of sexual frustration. on my left, i was watching two of my friends connect and tell stories of other times, other places. connection on one side, frustration on the other, while i looked down at my feet, 1 and 2. there they were, right there in my funny-looking, hand-made shoes. and my feet were down there, pegged to the world and holding the two legs that were holding up this container of guts and blood. and way up on top was the spinning head that holds the eyes that tell me i’m seeing and the brain that is doing it’s best to not be confused, but is confused quite a bit. from my head, i could see my hands that were sunk into my pockets and just chilling there.  the trains were moving back and forth, dropping cars and reconnecting. the kids were smoking weed and drinking pabst and being cool. my friends were standing and connecting. i was thinking about how running far away has never been able to fix the blues because the blues are waiting for us in all the places we go. so i pulled my mitts from my pockets and took the blues by the hand and walked back to my buddy’s rig. somewhere, hundreds of miles south of here, there is a desert that’s calling my name and there are lots of thoughts to be had under it’s wonder.

we each have ourselves to live with, but it’s good to remember that these bones are on loan. the earth owns us, bones, blood, brains and even our satellite-faster-than-the-speed-of-light thoughts. big thoughts are good for us and they lead to bigger dreams. connection has come to mean something different than it use to mean. modern connection is defined by how many bars you are getting on your phone or whether you need a password or not, it might mean you need to contact your carrier or see what networks are available.  i would have it go back to the older meaning. wouldn’t it be cool if connection was seeing a pair of soulful eyes looking you in the eyes and causing your breath to change pace and maybe a smile and a hello? what if connection was a decision to be less cool and more kind and to have room in the heart for differences? to me, that’s the beginning of a revolution.