Turn Around

 

Turn Around

Cold hands, warm heart,
Big dreams, false starts.
Those pills don’t work,
They just make it worse.
Don’t say you’re through–
I’ll swim beside you.
So this town, this sea,
Won’t drag you underneath.

You gotta know that this will turn around,
Until then I will not let you down.
When you find your ship has run aground,
You can call me, I won’t let you down–
I won’t let you down.
This will turn around.

Sick days, drunk nights,
Short fuse, loud fights,
Lose weight, all bones,
White trucks, the undertow.
Don’t say you’re done–
‘Cause you’re brave and you’re loved.
And this town, this sea,
It won’t drag you underneath.

You gotta know that this will turn around–
Until then I will not let you down.
When you find your ship has run aground,
You can call me, I won’t let you down–
I won’t let you down,
This will turn around.

I won’t let you down.
You’ve gotta know that this will… 

Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh

(apologies to The Postal Service)

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

What exactly does it take to recognize that you may have hit rock bottom? Is it when the only things on your grocery list are cold medicine and cat food? Is it when the people working the counter at the liquor store and the drive-thru at McDonald’s suddenly know you by name? Or is it when you catch yourself saying “that sloppy joe was less than stellar” after dinner?

It’s hard to gauge precisely when one bottoms out. I mean, just the other day I helped a tweaked-out junkie at the library apply online for a part-time job at the Dollar General.  Surely to God I’m in better shape than she is, right?

dollargeneral

Dollar General: the place where dreams are made

They say that it’s always darkest before the dawn, but things have been so awfully dark for so long now that I’m worried I haven’t even hit rock bottom yet and I’m even more concerned that there isn’t going to be a dawn. I simply can’t see anything good coming my way anymore. Even Charlie Brown had enough optimism to believe he would one day get to kick that ball, or fly that kite, or win that baseball game, or receive just one goddamn valentine in his mailbox. I don’t share the same optimism as that hapless loser, and yet, I continue to carry on. But why? I’ll have to think on that and get back to you.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that I may have hit bottom is that it seems like one of the few things I look forward to nowadays is falling asleep. I don’t know why, as none of my dreams are pleasant–all I ever seem to have are nightmares. For instance, the other night I dreamt that I was stuck in a sea of people at the world’s largest outdoor mall on a sweltering day, wearing a sleeveless shirt and covered in second degree sunburns. When I awoke, rather than feel relief at having been delivered from that godawful nightmare, I sighed at the prospect of having to face the day. Nightmares are still less painful than the waking life for the simple fact that dreams aren’t real and reality most certainly is–it’s cold and concrete and certain. The phrase “pinch me, I must dreaming” implies that pain is what separates dreams from reality, and I reckon that’s true. Dreams, as painful as they might seem sometimes, are ultimately harmless–life is quite the opposite.

Sometimes I find myself hoping that the last few years have just been a bad dream–that I’ll wake up and have it be two or three or even ten years ago so that I can do absolutely everything differently. Or maybe I could wake up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette like Bob Newhart did in the finale of his 80s sitcom–that would be okay, too.  (Actually, that would be fucking awesome.)

single greatest sitcom finale ever

But unfortunately, there are no do-overs–life doesn’t hand you any mulligans. When we rear back and take a swing, we are stuck with whatever lie we receive, and for some reason I keep on shanking my ball into the damned rough.  Sooner or later I’m bound to make it onto the fairway, right?  Or is that just Charlie Brown talking?

There is Light Somewhere

Despite what you might believe, you must understand that no matter how low you may be feeling or how much you might be hurting, in the grand scheme of things, you don’t have it so bad.  There is always going to be someone who is worse off than you are.  There will always be someone who is hurting more–suffering more–than you are or ever will.  You must put things in perspective if you are to survive.  This is essential, as I’m learning firsthand.

So cheer up, because it’s not the end of the world.  Not yet, anyway.  Just when you think you’re ready to walk the streets wearing a sandwich board declaring “The End is Nigh” in bold red letters, know that there is light somewhere.  Whether it be a smile from a gorgeous girl or a kind word from a close friend who cares, there is light somewhere.  Look for it.  Know it.  Embrace it.

There was a distinguished professor, now deceased, at the University of Arkansas by the name of Dr. Leo Van Scyoc (pronounced “Van Syke”).  He was a mentor to my parents, and in all likelihood he was the catalyst for my being named “Hotspur” since he was the one who taught Shakespeare to the both of them (his forearms were as big as Popeye’s, as he was notorious for teaching straight from his edition of The Riverside Shakespeare, holding the humongous tome in one arm as he taught).  Dr. Van Scyoc was fond of giving the following advice:  “One must retain one’s sense of humor.”  I’ve found myself heeding that bit of wisdom more and more in recent years, and I think it just might be the single best piece of advice I’ve ever received.

Speaking of laughing, I’ll leave you tonight with a poem from that brilliant dirty old man, Charles Bukowski.  I get so pissed sometimes when people discount Bukowski and write him off as a degenerate, because when he wasn’t busy drinking and gambling and whoring and writing poems and stories that served to reinforce his image as a degenerate, he was crafting some of the most eloquent and accessible poetry ever written about the human heart.  This is one of those poems.

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The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

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And if you’re not much for readin’ poetry, then feel free to give a listen to it being read by Tom Waits, the patron saint of coolness.