My old music ethnography teacher back in college once told our class a great story involving a group of ethnographers and an African tribal gentleman (Masai, maybe? I forget).
The ethnographers took the tribesman to a symphony. He had never heard Western music before, so they were curious to find out what he thought of it. When they asked him after the concert, the tribesman said that he had enjoyed it very much. When they inquired what his favorite part of the performance was, he said “the very beginning.” They asked if he meant the overture, and he said “no, no, the VERY beginning.” The ethnographers realized that what the tribesman had enjoyed the most was listening to the orchestra tuning their instruments.
I put these pics together in a small video for fun. I simply wanted to capture the mesmerizing process of traditional Japanese woodblock printing; which is done in a more delicate way than the modernized screen-printing of today.
Note: The artist of this piece is unknown. (If you happen to know, please tell me and I’ll credit them).
I say I used to know a woman just like you, Beautiful but jaded by the multitude of men who’d often try to Justify their lies with twisted notions of survival And hide behind their armor when karma completes a cycle She replied That just because I knew a woman well it doesn’t mean I know them all She begins to bade farewell Eyes up to the sky, she sighs, I need nobody True indeed, sister, but you still need everybody because We hardly know ourselves if we know nobody else And only in our loneliness can home become a hell Exhale
“I believe that she is articulating a fundamental truth, namely, that in times of extreme crisis the soul turns instinctively to its maker, God. She lists various traumatic events to which one might be subject; hospitalization, war, receiving bad news and ultimately at the end of one’s life ‘when they’re saying their good byes.’ In these times the argument for the existence of God appears to be won… However, she also cautions that although this is true, our understanding of who God is can be seriously skewed. Rather than cultivating a serious relationship with him, some people treat him like Houdini or Santa Claus only to be called upon for favours during those critical times in life. She is saying, I believe, that God is much more sophisticated than that and indeed wants us to see him as being more than that. She finds that peoples perceptions of God can be funny. And possibly [that] God finds it funny that we often characterize him in this way.” commentary from J.Dixon.
No one laughs at God in a hospital No one laughs at God in a war No one’s laughing at God When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor
No one laughs at God When the doctor calls after some routine tests No one’s laughing at God When it’s gotten real late And their kid’s not back from the party yet
No one laughs at God When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake No one’s laughing at God When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else And they hope that they’re mistaken
No one laughs at God When the cops knock on their door And they say we got some bad news, sir No one’s laughing at God When there’s a famine or fire or flood
*Chorus* But God can be funny At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or Or when the crazies say He hates us And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke God can be funny, When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus God can be so hilarious Ha ha Ha ha
No one laughs at God in a hospital No one laughs at God in a war No one’s laughing at God When they’ve lost all they’ve got And they don’t know what for
No one laughs at God on the day they realize That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes But God can be funny At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or Or when the crazies say He hates us And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke God can be funny, When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus God can be so hilarious
No one laughs at God in a hospital No one laughs at God in a war No one laughs at God in a hospital No one laughs at God in a war No one laughing at God in hospital No one’s laughing at God in a war No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor
No one’s laughing at God No one’s laughing at God No one’s laughing at God We’re all laughing with God
If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you’ve not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren’t okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find it’s fine to be alone once you’re embracing it.
We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library. Where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books. You’re not supposed to talk much anyway so it’s safe there.
There’s also the gym. If you’re shy you could hang out with yourself in mirrors, you could put headphones in (guitar stroke).
And there’s public transportation, because we all gotta go places.
And there’s prayer and meditation. No one will think less if you’re hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation.
Start simple. Things you may have previously (electric guitar plucking) based on your avoid being alone principals.
The lunch counter. Where you will be surrounded by chow-downers. Employees who only have an hour and their spouses work across town and so they — like you — will be alone.
Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.
When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You’re no less intriguing a person when you’re eating solo dessert to cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.
Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community. And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor till the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one’s watching…because, they’re probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you’re sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.
Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you. Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there’re always statues to talk to and benches made for sitting give strangers a shared existence if only for a minute and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversations you get in by sitting alone on benches might’ve never happened had you not been there by yourself
Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. but lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.
You could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your partner, look both further and farther for the endless quest for company. But no one’s in your head and by the time you translate your thoughts, some essence of them may be lost or perhaps it is just kept.
Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from preschool over to high school’s groaning were tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Cuz if you’re happy in your head than solitude is blessed and alone is okay.
It’s okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can’t think like you, for this be relieved, keeps things interesting lifes magic things in reach.
And it doesn’t mean you’re not connected, that community’s not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. take silence and respect it. if you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it. if your family doesn’t get you, or religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it.
you could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it If your heart is bleeding make the best of it There is heat in freezing, be a testament.