--Rebecca Luttrell Briley
21 March 2014
Lately I’ve been thinking about the things I will miss when I die. Not just the past or people who have gone on, but what could have been but never was. I guess I was just reminded when a former classmate died and all my friends reacted with, “So young! She was just…”—and we all started putting ourselves in her place. Facing it.
Not that I can’t face it, my own mortality. That’s the least of it, at least for me.
I guess what I’m really facing is the reality of what will not come again—or, more accurately, never come at all. As Emily Dickinson put it: “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” Bittersweet, that is. Time is running but the bright spots on the horizon are receding before us.
As a self-professed possibilitarian, this is major.
To be specific. I was listening to U2 in the car as I often do, singing along on “One” and “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”—all the favorites—and it dawned on me I never was going to become friends with the members of my favorite band. Hang out with The Edge, talk religion and politics with Bono. Maybe even sing backup (just messing around, not anything official, of course). Open and walk through that gate I’ve driven past when visiting Dublin, be invited in to peruse the latest lyrics, cup o’ tea, and all that. None of that is ever actually going to happen.
Not that I ever really thought it would—but it might have. (To be honest, I don’t think I ever even thought about it at all—it was just a feeling of something I would enjoy if the universe ever got around to it.) Because anything is possible—to a point. And then, at that certain point, whenever that is, if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s probably not going to happen. Ever. That’s what I’m talking about.
Don’t get me wrong—I know I have done more in my 50 years than most people do in twice that time. I’ve been around the world. I’ve lived in 7 countries. 1,500 friends on Facebook, yadda, yadda, yadda. Crossed most things already off my bucket list. If it was something I wanted, I didn’t sit around and wait for it to happen—I went after it, took it by the horns, made it give me the time of day. To a point. Not everything is available. There are still some complicated protocols that will not be broken down, no matter how hard one tries.
And then, there are the people. Persuasive as one is, one cannot always make the horse drink, so to speak. Herd the cats. Get the brutish beasts to see justice and reason—and mercy. Put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
But that’s no matter. Really, of greater importance to me right now, at the moment, is the U2 thing.
I’m not a fan-fic wannabe. Hear me out. I got over crushes years ago. Bono and U2 are so much bigger than that, far bey0nd the impact of music or entertainment. I’m talking about substance. Depth of lyrics, evidence of lives lived to make a difference in the world, faith tried and tested, but still standing. Not that the music hasn’t been cutting edge (excuse the pun) or highly entertaining: because whether one has the privilege of a seat—any seat—in the stadium to let the rattle and hum invade one’s very nervous system, making them an integral part of the encounter, or just turning it up to let it rock the car to the envy of all who pass on the highway or glance over approvingly at the stoplight really makes little difference. Time spent inside the sound—one with the words—is one and the same, wherever. The unadulterated U2 Experience.
Hard as it is to comprehend, I know not everybody shares my appreciation. (I mean, “Let it Go” from Frozen? A cartoon? No accounting for anything.) Multiple visits to Ireland—the Homeland, Herself—have verified the prophet is not necessarily esteemed in his home town. That Irish disdain for success is no respecter of persons, it seems. Deep down, though, in the dark of their heart of hearts, I know they’re proud of their Boys. The Irish are poets and it takes one to know one and they’d be bigger fools than they pretend not to connect with the language of such lines as “Did you come here for forgiveness?/Did you come to raise the dead?/Did you come here to play Jesus/to the lepers in your head?” That was the first lyric that lassoed me, the wire that tripped me up, made me a believer. Made me want to get to know the mind behind the line. The eyes that look out and see the world like that and can articulate the feeling. The soul brother.
I realize just now I could probably piece together a whole story by picking lines from memorable songs, cliché and annoying as that might be, but to what purpose? It won’t get me a ticket to the table, it won’t cancel some third world debt or purify water in another polluted part of the planet. But it will prompt another tune on the playlist, reopen the old wound of wishful thinking. I can’t live, with or without…
I guess I haven’t quite given up on it after all. I pick up on my “maybes,” unwilling, even now, to relinquish that most tenuous hold on the most dubious of dreams. Still.
I do not think Godot will come tonight—or Bono, Edge, Adam or Larry—but I guess I’ll still leave the window open. Just a crack. For the craic. The neighbors can hum along, if they like. I’ll even take requests. Why not? Somebody should be able to get what they’re looking for.