February 22, 2006

For some reason, the George Harrison/All Things Must Pass listen of a couple weeks ago is still haunting my brain. Today, I woke up with some lines from the album’s title song rolling around in my head:

All things must pass
All things must pass away

All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So, I must be on my way
And face another day

Out here in the Great American Southwest, where the weather is always good and the sun seems to shine every day, it is easy to be lulled into thinking that there is no passage of things taking place and no storms appearing on the horizon, and that it will always be that way.

The people I’ve talked to who love it out here seem to primarily for either of two reasons: 1) to get away from the inconvenience of winter snow and cold or the burden of family and traditions, or 2) to embrace the western, “west coast” culture of freedom, sun and fun that comes with a wide open desert landscape having 330 days of sunshine every year. Combining in various extents the romantic myths of the Old West, Jack Kerouac’s open road, and Brian Wilson’s California, Arizona’s weather, lifestyle, and its culture seems almost an elixir that enables one to defy the passage of time and obscure the tenuous nature of our existence no matter where one lives.

The deception can be almost perfect if one were to sit back and let it just happen. And yet, whether it’s sitting on the patio by the pool on yet-another picture perfect day, or driving past the seemingly endless blocks of walled-in subdivisions, strip malls, and corner pharmacies, or crawling in rush-hour traffic on the same damned freeway past the never-changing desert terrain and vegetation, I do feel the passage of time and the sense that things are indeed passing away. Perhaps it is the very distance from dear friends and relatives that enables me to recognize the changes taking place in each of our collective lives – both great and small – with each visit I make back east that accommodates such a perspective.

Whether it’s the more serious stuff (the care and concern for my elderly parents in their new apartment, the death of my friend Ben’s wife, my friends Jim & Shelley becoming parents for the first time, the contentious split about to take place in my church this year), personal milestones (my recent 50th birthday, Tracey’s and my upcoming 20th wedding anniversary), or dopey stuff (technological advancements, personal appearance, the prospect of a new Goodboys Nation following the departure of several members of GB South!), I am all too aware that time is passing and things are passing away. But that’s life.

I like the image George Harrison uses of “life’s strings”. By its very nature, string is tenuous – it can be lengthened, stretched, twisted, or cut. It can be lengthy or short, of varying thickness and weight; it can be strong like an anchor chain or as sinewy as a spider’s web. Yet, in the end, nothing lasts: the anchor chain rusts and dissolves, and the spider web tears and breaks in the wind and rain. As such, the material designs and desires of our lives – the fancy cars, gated communities, and well-manicured lawns and golf courses, the investments, plastic surgeries, and retirement portfolios, etc. – can never fully disguise nor replace the unique life strings established by who we are, where we come from, and the relationships we cherish and cultivate. For it is in these that we are able to see most clearly and share with each other the good and bad realities of life that, in the end, all things must indeed pass away.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 14:36 | Comments Off on All Things Must Pass
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