This song haunted me for weeks, day in and day out, about six months ago. I pasted it here so I could easily listen to it, whenever I wanted to do so. I have no idea how many times I did just that. Music has been a very important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Since very early childhood, if I heard a song that I liked, I could sing it, pitch perfect after listening to it two or three times. I had what might be called ‘an ear’ for it.
This song bothered me, because I both liked and didn’t like it. I liked it’s simplicity and the imagery within the words. Stark, but clear. Waiting for the sun to rise, to end the darkness is a universal that everyone can understand. The urge to dream of the sweeter things is, yet again, another universal concept easily understood. And the tiredness of living day to day, hoping for and yet, seeing few if any changes.
But, then comes the second verse. Simply a repeat of the first one. That sort of hit me sideways. No expansion on the original lines, just a repeat. I wanted more and was, at first disappointed. Because the music also changed, expanded and became a sort of surreal cacophony that was almost jarring. Edgy, if you will. So, I just sat with the song, let it take me wherever it would and finally realized why it was haunting me. Because it is about life itself and how so many of us human creatures actually experience that phenomenon.
Early in April, I turned 74. It was a silent sort of shock, to my whole system. When I turned 70, I wrote one sentence that day. “I don’t know how to be 70.” Now, here I am at 74 and I still don’t know how to be this number of years. I mean, that means I am an old person. A really old person. Someone who is living and breathing on The Edge of The Dark. And yes, my eyes are tired, as is most of the rest of what might be defined as my system.
And yet, over the past few days, I have realized that I have a deep desire to write about something I consider very important. I want to write about ‘rebirth’. My writing has always been personal. In other words, stemming from my own personal experiences. Just the thought of rebirth, at my age, sends my thoughts screaming into that darkness, never to be seen again.
Yet, here I am, trying to do just that. To be honest, I am making no promises for ordered thought, let alone coherency. So we shall begin at the beginning. What the heck is rebirth? What does it mean? Is it even possible? If it is, how does one go about doing such a thing? And more important, perhaps, why would one seek to do that?
I can only tell you of my own experiences. I was twenty-seven years old, married with two children. I’d been reading a book that a friend had given me and I found myself doing something I hadn’t done in years. I prayed. And when I stopped, my insides sort of lit up and I felt joy for the first time. It felt like Spring, Sunshine, and bubbles all rolled into one and now dancing through my entire system. All I could do was laugh out loud and hug myself.
The next morning, not having spoken about what had happened to anyone, and in the spur of the moment, my husband, two kids, and myself got in the car to take a ride West to visit my sister, who had recently moved to a different and unknown town. As we drove away from home, I reached out and turned on the radio. It was John Denver with these words: “He was born in the summer of his twenty-seventh year, going home to a place he’d never been before. He’d left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again, you might say he’d found the key to every door.”
That was my first experience with synchronicity, as well as my first lesson concerning Joy and Rebirth. My second lesson was far from the same. In Native American cultures there is a shamanic ritual known as the cycle of “Life/Death/Rebirth”. In it, the initiate must dig his own grave, lie down in it (the covering having been closed off by a blanket), and wait through three days and nights, of total darkness to be given a vision that would explain his purpose. That almost sounds easy in comparison.
It was more than ten years later. We were living in a farm house, out in the county. Now there were four children, two in their teens, two almost ten years younger. Having been raised in a strict Catholic family, I was struggling with the concept of divorce. My husband had finally admitted to being an alcoholic, had sought rehabilitation, but his need to control me and every aspect of our lives hadn’t been diminished. I had been in our bedroom, with the door closed, trying to find a way through our current situation. I finally roused myself enough to leave the bedroom and walk as far as the dining room where I sat in a chair with my back against the wall.
Only to realize that my husband, in only his skivvies, was sitting in the rocking chair next to the fireplace, haranguing all four of our children who had been ordered to sit on the floor in front of him. All four of them were crying. Obviously in a state of cold rage, the man was shaking his finger and pointing at them, as he said, “No one, not one of you will move, until at least one of you agrees with me, and says out loud, that your mother has never been here for you, has never really loved you, because she is utterly selfish and incapable of loving anyone.”
I had put the divorce on hold. I had filed, after he came home drunk at two in the morning and beaten the shit out of me, and six cops had arrived (called by my son), to escort him out of the house. One of those police officer’s had remained behind and while sitting across from me, had very calmly and quietly asked me a question: “Do you know that no one, not your father, husband, son, or a friend has the right to do this to you?” I clearly heard and understood his question, perhaps for the first time in my life.
My husband had taken himself to a rehab center, where he’d stayed for a two month period. He’d started attending AA meetings and would go to them regularly. I had given almost twenty years to the marriage and decided that I at least owed all of us the opportunity to see if this incredible change might work. He did stay sober, but his cold rage toward my person never left.
It would take many more years to fully understand that rage, but eventually I did come to realize that it had very little to do with me. It was a carry over from his childhood and something he’d never worked through, and more than likely never would. As I sat in that chair and heard his words to our children, my decision was obvious. I stood up and clearly stated, “I’m done now.” Then left the room and took the divorce off hold.
Which meant that I was something new. Born again as a single woman, mother of four children, a second year college student with a long journey in front of me alone. What I’m trying to say here is that ‘rebirth’ comes in all kinds of ways. Yes, it can be spiritual, like my first one, but it can also happen on other levels, psychological, physical, mental, or emotional. And just like an unborn child, finally ready to arrive, we are swept up by timing and circumstances beyond our control and shoved into a whole new world and state of being.
Which brings me to why I feel a need to write about rebirth. The Pandemic and its restrictions, have drastically altered our lives in so many ways, and on so many different levels. What are you feeling in this moment? Does it mirror the you that you were before it all began? Are you experiencing wide mood swings, or just one that is darker with angry inner or outer bursts of desires that have little or nothing to do with who you were when it all began? Are you constantly exhausted and for no real reason? Do you even have a Normal to go back to, should it end next week, month, or year? And last question, for now, what would Normal look like now and how would it make you feel?
This is only the first of what I foresee as a series of essays concerning the subject of Rebirth. If you’d like to respond to this first article, the comment section below is there for just that purpose.
Elizabeth Crawford 5/25/2020