Pattern Seeker



Recently, I quoted David Byrne’s line “How did I get here?”

This morning during the drive to school, Sam and I heard the Talking Heads song (Once in a Lifetime) from which that lyric comes. It felt better than coincidence; it felt like cosmic validation. Thanks, SiriusXM radio station “1st Wave.”

Recently, Sam and I have been talking a lot about a Bob Dylan song, All Along the Watchtower, because, well, it’s a kick-ass song that Sam is referencing in one of his own songs, and also because of its importance to a very climactic moment in our favorite show, Battlestar Galactica.

There must be someway out of here…

I can’t get no relief.

If you haven’t watched BSG yet, lucky you! You have the greatest viewing experience of your life ahead of you. Go! right now, and put your name on the hold list at your local library for the season 1 DVDs. Start with the mini-series. You can thank me later.

But we have plenty of time before you are lost to that worthy pursuit. The waiting list will be months long. In the meantime, a few thoughts on driving, themes and portents.

As I have said before, I am a pattern seeker. The books of JRR Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander; the many incarnations of Star Trek and the original Star Wars movies. The Journey of the Hero, as explained and popularized by Joseph Campbell—all our favorites fit the pattern. Ever since Donna brought them into my life, these have formed the bedrock of my worldview.  At the time, I just thought we loved a ripping yarn. It’s clear to me now that what we responded to were classic hero stories.

Okay, so what’s my point?

My family is at a crossroad. Sam will be leaving for school so soon; Paul and I want more meaning in our lives and less stuff getting in the way. More meaning and less baggage.

And then last night I had a vivid dream.

I was buckled into the backseat behind the driver’s seat of our Jeep Cherokee. But I was the driver.  (And it’s a stick shift! Try that from the backseat.)  I was distraught, trying to figure out how to get control of the car. I looked down at my right wrist, and the veins beneath my skin were writhing and pulsating. I knew I was having a heart attack. I managed (?) to get to my former Virginia neighbor, Sandy, who was wonderful as ever and who calmed me down.  Then I woke up.

Okay, it’s no hero’s journey. But I do see the pattern. Almost always, the hero has to make a sacrifice before s/he reaches the goal. And there is also, almost always, a circle of true of friends.

Personal relevance:

  • Sacrifice? Check.
  • Circle of true friends? Oh boy, check.

Which brings me to All Along the Watchtower, the Dylan song. I know I am searching for a way out of our current difficulties. Unemployment cloaked in our gray Chicago winter has been pretty grim. I am selling off stuff, paring down, preparing us for the next phase: leaner, lighter, refocused. That’s all very deliberate and necessary, but here’s what I’m wondering.

If some of the sacrifice (of the excess stuff if not the job) is welcome and the friends of blood and time are in place, what’s the big deal? Honestly, Paul and I are moving toward what we want. It’s just happening a little sooner than we expected.

So let us not talk falsely now,

The hour is getting late.

The most appropriate music cue here comes courtesy of Sydney: This Too Shall Pass by OK Go The winter of our discontent shall be tempered with a bit of whimsy. Thanks, Syd.

Same as it ever was.


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