Come Away with Me & other randomness


It’s always a world of tiny coincidences. A few weeks back we were batting about the expression ‘come away with me’, daydreaming of running away and doing things both out of control and outside of our “normal” lives. Eventually we more or less came to substitute ‘Norah Jones with me’ for the expression ‘come away with me’ – for what should be obvious reasons. I had not thought about Norah Jones in years, if ever. Then suddenly, the very next day, I saw that she gave the first performance at the Fox Theatre in Detroit after Soundgarden the night of Chris Cornell’s death. Jones did “Black Hole Sun” (who didn’t, though?) and made it sound more like something Tori Amos than Soundgarden.

In another coincidence, I told some colleagues at lunch the other day (sitting in glorious and rare sun) the story of someone I used to work with who was basically a complete lunatic (I used it as a story to show how difficult it can be to fire federal workers). I had not thought of the crazy co-worker in years, but I got a message from my mom later that same evening telling me he had died.

“The resultant fervor of human belonging”Wole Soyinka

Life is full of these little things – coincidences and things we want in some fiendish fever to connect: the pieces must connect! … I wonder if it is all completely random or if it’s feedback from “energy” we’ve put into the world by conjuring these things up actively that then comes back to us like a boomerang.

Probably it comes down to intent and motivation.

As Pamuk asks in Strangeness in my Mind: “Intentions come in two forms: That which our heart intends and that which our words intend”. And these are indeed different phenomena. The heart will lead us to do the most irrational things (‘come away with me’ and whatnot), intending as it does to make us connect, impervious to the knowledge that it is a bad idea. The head, our words, will instead look for reason and sense, and in some cases, protective gear and weaponry in the form of iron-clad excuses not to do things that maybe we should brave our fears to do.

Are we seeking the missing pieces that link our lives and events together? Are we looking for words to explain coincidental happenstance? Do we intend to share knowledge (“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.” –Paul Kalinithi, When Breath Becomes Air)? Do we intend to join what Soyinka referred to as the ‘fervor of human belonging’ (which has its duality, light and dark)?

Motivation can be even more tenuous. I find myself succumbing, as Doris Lessing describes in The Golden Notebook, to the pull of acting out multiple personalities, playing different roles, playing off another (like Saul and Anna), driven by the one keenly stupid motivation: “I wanted to see what would happen”. Maybe this is a solid motivation in scientific experimentation. In human relations, not so much. But with curiosity the driver, the one great motivator, you do get adventures; you do get disasters. No one will claim your life was devoid of interesting stuff.

“And yet—an excitement. The unspeakable excitement you feel when a galloping disaster promises to release you from all responsibility for your own life.” -from Hateship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage  Alice Munro

Or is that just the cynic speaking?

yet less for loss


And yet the line that always sticks with me: “fearless in religion, for our bed was the church”.

A Kind of Loss
Ingeborg Bachmann

Used together: seasons, books, a piece of music.
The keys, teacups, bread basket, sheets and a bed.
A hope chest of words, of gestures, brought back, used, used up.
A household order maintained. Said. Done. And always a hand was there.
I’ve fallen in love with winter, with a Viennese septet, with summer.
With village maps, a mountain nest, a beach and a bed.
Kept a calendar cult, declared promises irrevocable,
bowed before something, was pious to a nothing

(-to a folded newspaper, cold ashes, the scribbled piece of paper) ,
fearless in religion, for our bed was the church.

From my lake view arose my inexhaustible painting.
From my balcony I greeted entire peoples, my neighbors.
By the chimney fire, in safety, my hair took on its deepest hue.
The ringing at the door was the alarm for my joy.

It’s not you I’ve lost,
but the world.

Eine Art Verlust
Gemeinsam benutzt: Jahreszeiten, Bücher und eine Musik.
Die Schlüssel, die Teeschalen, den Brotkorb, Leintücher
und ein Bett.
Eine Aussteuer von Worten, von Gesten, mitgebracht,
verwendet, verbraucht.
Eine Hausordnung beachtet. Gesagt. Getan. Und immer
die Hand gereicht.

In Winter, in ein Wiener Septett und in Sommer habe ich
mich verliebt.
In Landkarten, in ein Bergnest, in einen Strand und in ein Bett.
Einen Kult getrieben mit Daten, Versprechen für
unkündbar erklärt,
angehimmelt ein Etwas und fromm gewesen vor einem Nichts,

( – der gefalteten Zeitung, der kalten Asche, dem Zettel
mit einer Notiz)
furchtlos in der Religion, denn die Kirche war dieses Bett.

Aus dem Seeblick hervor ging meine unerschöpfliche Malerei.
Von dem Balkon herab waren die Völker, meine Nachbarn,
zu grüßen.
Am Kaminfeuer, in der Sicherheit, hatte mein Haar seine
äußerste Farbe.
Das Klingeln an der Tür war der Alarm für meine Freude.

Nicht dich habe ich verloren,
sondern die Welt.