Just Breathe, Pearl Jam

Moving performance of a beautiful song.

Lyrics:

Yes I understand that every life must end, aw huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw huh,..
I’m a lucky man to count on both hands
The ones I love,..

Some folks just have one,
Others they got none, aw huh,..

Stay with me,..
Let’s just breathe.

Practiced are my sins,
Never gonna let me win, aw huh,..
Under everything, just another human being, aw huh,..
Yeah, I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world
To make me bleed.

Stay with me,..
You’re all I see.

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t now I’m a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean.

I wonder everyday
As I look upon your face, aw huh,..
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take, aw huh,..
Nothing you would take,..
Everything you gave.

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t now I’m a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
I come clean.

Nothing you would take,..
Everything you gave.
Hold me till I die,..
Meet you on the other side.

Songwriters: Eddie Vedder

Just Breathe lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

© 2009 Monkeywrench Records

The Soul in Traction

Stuck, trapped, constricted. Steel bars preventing the imprisoned spirit from breathing the pure air of freedom. Never has the man relished less the old dog-haired sock of his own company, but it’s the only company he keeps. Call it a habit of keeping unorthodox hours. But it’s his job, five nights a week, to stay awake until dawn while the inhabitants of the house sleep, which means he is not really alone. He can’t howl and scream as he wishes, can’t sing ‘Landslide’ off-key and weep uncontrollably, if he wants to keep the job. Which is a big ‘if.’ He feels as if his soul is in traction, as if he’s been gagged and strapped to a cold comfortless bed. Even so, blessed for now with healthy legs and feet, he is able some nights before going in for his midnight shift, to slip past the imaginary guard that haunts his apartment door, and find his way down to the park in the museum district. There he jogs around the golf course, where each tall lamp, with its reliable measured distance from the last, serves as his salvation from the dark. But running only tightens the tendons, strains the muscles and joints. On a superficial level it may temporarily relieve the intensity of his suffering, but it furthers hardens a body that desperately needs to soften. Around and around the man goes, circling like a vulture, but he gets no closer to the food he seeks—the deep-bellied sustenance of Joy, the full-bodied nurturance of Peace. There is no sweet or savory fare his hands can bring to the table of thanksgiving, no good and gracious word his voice can share at the table of happy relatedness. Indeed, pressed into his cramped corner, the man hates that such tables exist. Call this wretch an indentured servant to some absurdly misdirected notion of persistence. Call him sorely deficient in Vitamin D. Surely a little sunshine wouldn’t hurt. But he is ashamed to show his face in the glaring light of day, his face with its burn scars and hollow sockets, with its prematurely lined forehead and ravaged eyes from which the light dies a little more with each passing night.

Only Tears

The nights don’t get easier. They are still as lethal to illusion as ever. Lethal too to every truth that rings false to the hooded Ruler who demands obedience to their dominant mood. The heart weakens under the spell of their dark magic. She can’t recall a single hour when she felt glad or at ease. The skin forgets what it feels like to be touched by the rays of the sun. And wasn’t the whole body once touched, held in an embrace the sun itself had to envy, since she didn’t know what the moon knew, she wasn’t witness to the two lovers entwined in each other’s arms beneath the stars? What comes as a gift comes with so much more than strings attached. Comes like a strange ship to a new land, to bestow trinkets of silver and gold and then to pillage and slaughter and traumatize the native soil and the native souls. What comes as a gift comes with the knowledge, whether affirmed or denied, that it will not last. The expiration date is unreadable, but it is certainly there, smudged on the bottom of the glass bottle. It is all a man can do to hold fast to a few ancient lines. Blessed are those who mourn. Sorrow is better than laughter. But worst are the nights when tears do not come, when the face stays frozen in a grim posture of joyless resolve. So let the tears come, and let them burn clean. Not to make the nights any easier, but to give them over to what is real. For it was not too long ago we held each other in an embrace we forced the sun to envy, and now each of us is alone, each and every night. And only tears, in all their wordless power, acknowledge the truth this knowledge brings.

Let This Loneliness

Let this loneliness be a crucible in which a genuine maturity is forged, rather than a noose that continues to strangle my natural capacity for joy.

Let this loneliness be a hunger pang, a groan of desire for the real food of communion, rather than an oddly comforting bone I refuse to drop because it’s all I’ve got.

Let this loneliness be a shrill call to the deeper Life for which I long, rather than a dead animal I strap on my back every night, each night more oppressive than the last.

Let this loneliness be a north star that guides me to the Inn where True Love is born, rather than a bolted door that keeps me locked in a war of hatred with myself.

Grant Me the Faith

Grant me the faith to believe that Life is stronger than death, and Love deeper than hate. Let me never abdicate my house to the hungry thieves that would rob each room of its particular treasure, and curse the one who lives inside as worthless, no more than an empty purse, a justly abandoned figure on a severed fragment of scorched earth. Let the figure refuse the facile fabrication of an identity based on feelings of uselessness and ugliness, but rather let these feelings pass. Let them move through the physical body like a river, however muddied, moves through a canyon, rather than harden into a dam of mind-made steel. O God, Creator of all that is good and real, without whom there can be no unity, let the faint beginnings of light seep through the cracks of my divided self and thaw the ice congealing in my heart. Bring me back continually to the depths of your peace in the present moment, and do not let your sun come up over the hill to shine through my window while I am lost in a state of war, with myself or with the world. Let me face each state, whether familiar and painful or strange and painless, with courage and compassion. Do not let me act from an unconsidered sense of lack, but let me look directly through that hole, like one whose right eye through the tiny lens of a telescope sees with a jolt the vast sky lit up at night, limitless and unimaginable.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

The body pushed to its limit, and then some. The heart ambushed by loss. The mind confined to its narrow repetitive lines. Lord, you know how lost and impoverished I have become. How little is left here but a pitiful flood of unwept tears. What she said, and later regretted saying, is no less true. I have no direction. I don’t have it now, and I never did. So direct me, omnipotent Director. Let me loose to love and serve and give you glory. To live as a free man might choose to live. Let me not tarry here for longer than necessary. I have already done that, and then some. It’s getting late. November again, and thirty Novembers come and gone. And the late autumn wind, I don’t have a clue what it’s saying. I can’t decipher a tale of daring in its chill refrain. I can only read the numbers on the fraying calendar. And the numbers don’t lie. The numbers say it’s almost December. And I can’t remember why I’m here.

Without your sun, I become a hard knot of tension

Without your sun, I become a hard knot of tension in a dark room with the windows shut and the shades drawn. Without your touch, I suffocate as I try to incorporate the abundant silence of dawn. Without your bread, I stuff my buffering brain with empty calories of heady knowledge. Without your breath, I gulp the humid air, straining to fill the floors in my body’s home, as if intending to hoard a diminishing commodity. Without your ear, I swoon on the seesaw of a thousand dualities. Dizzy as an erratic acrobat, I long to climb down off my childish contraption, surrender to the soft grass, and gaze up in wonder at the black sky, re-establishing contact with night. Only there, aware of my smallness and your grandeur, can I ask from the last dregs of my solitude: ‘O Most High, tender attendant of stardust, won’t you seal my heart’s cup? Let me end these litanies of lament, and glorify your fine handiwork.’ But how do I praise the sweet juice oozing from a plate of Mazafati dates, while I waste away in a fruitless desert? So many worlds of difference exist between taking the cup with a willing heart and sucking it down with a heartless will. Lord, let the seeds of willingness spill through the holes of this powerless body and grow fertile in the holy ground of my soul. As my physical form slowly declines, may my essential nature gradually arise, and may I ride that transmutation train through the dense towns of my pain, down into the sacred center of now.

Prayer: I shrink back from my lack of direction

I shrink back from my lack of direction. I blink once and come to months later, in the same exact location. Either I admit my honest terror in the face of barren obscurity, or I lock my soul in a windowless cell, and call it job security. Help me keep the faith I’ve never had. Help me feed the hope I’ve tried to kill. Hold me when I sweat through every pore, releasing the toxins that block me from breathing in your perfect air. Without you I become my song of lonely longing in the Texas night. If I must gnaw this bone without you, then send me deeper into the valley of separateness. Help me remember my thirst, whenever I pull from the well. Remember my hunger, whenever you ring the bell. Remember my poverty, whenever I cling to time. Remember my nakedness, whenever you house my mind. Remember my homelessness, whenever I find my home.