A Grappling Reflection after Club Q
by Theo Edmonds, Culture Futurist
In the last two days, we woke to another story of people out to kill other people for their audacity to live truthfully with joy. In the last sixty days, I also tragically lost a childhood friend. I had a parent diagnosed with advanced terminal disease. I said goodbye to my beloved grandmother. I was derided by another professional for being too sensitive and not “researchy” enough when insisting that artists, scientists, and business leaders be seen as equals in a collaborative project.
As I write this looking onto the street, many people are passing. I wonder what happened in their last sixty days. Who did they meet? Who did they lose? How many emotional blows were endured in their professional lives? Did they fall in love? Did they laugh? Did the laughter set something free inside them? Did it mask something too painful to talk about? Were they ever able to be still and just feel the sun on their face?
On the day of the murders at Club Q, my husband and I took an 8-mile hike to process together. During this significant time, we discussed how America’s collective pain — especially over the last two years — feels precariously close to being squandered as an opportunity for transformative growth.
For a few weeks, I have been working on three forthcoming books. One, Miss Myrtle & the Razzle Dazzle Belle Bang Bluegrass Band, is a children’s book about arts and community well-being. The second, Before We Had Words to Name Flowers, is a book of poetry about the struggle to align professional and personal identity in America. The third, well, is “researchy.”
In working through these books, I have been revisiting twenty years of old journals. It surprises me what wisdom I was given that I didn’t recognize at the time. For example, the poem below was written in 2004 during a very dark time in my life. It has resonance for me now, more than I ever knew — before these last sixty days.
Though we may not completely understand our lives at any given moment, the ability to stay present… IS ALWAYS THE WORK.
CROSSING OVER TO SAME
By Theo Edmonds
Apprenticed to this moment, we attach forever to each other. A shared destiny. Sometimes, in all of our doing, it’s easy to forget that darkness, too, is a moment within morning.
Can you remember a peaceful morning? Perhaps, even now, your body remembers the pause you took to know peace? Laying there. Eyes newly open. One hand gently spread over the bed’s edge. Just laying there. Looking at sunlight rising from a window, slowly stretching across the room until it touched your hand. Remember? You could see the light before you could actually feel warmth from the sun.
Others are attached forever to your destiny at this moment. For them, hold still. Just being still, is still, sometimes, the hardest thing to do.
In recent memories, fond and fallen
Seas crossed over, paths trod down
More and more, my searching seems clearer
As more of me, I also have found.
In restless mind games, I gave myself over
Over in mind, but mostly in game.
Games of a restless mind that kicked hard, was trodden
Fallen. Downtrodden. Crossing over to same.
Preaching politics were leaping wild lizards.
They fetched my muses and leaped from my song.
They preached power, nostalgic wildness in creatures
Lizards leaped out and carried my muses along.
They froze me in midstep; they lifted all knowing
The knowing now gone turned my heart into game
More and more turning. Again, I was searching.
Hurting. Ferocious. Crossing over to same.
I heard whistled music of laughter left lurching
Perched for the poachers to bag in their sacks.
Piled-up sacks of music. Lizards lurching with mindless mad laughter.
Poaching all joy to put a poet’s memories in rack.
Racked up and restless, the triangle sat waiting.
For cue ball and hard stick to break open a game
Games of lizards that play wild with a memory
Weary the poets, Crossing over the same.
Then the sight of light whispered.
“Rest now, weary restless,
give no stardust to lizards.
They only diminish
when given up to the song.
your winding holds its own treasured wonder
Deny the poachers and lizards
their robbery of your music
Sometimes being still,
is the only way to move on.
Journey toward a purposeful place
where poachers will find a cold lonely calling.
Where, though ramshackle, is still a hearth.
Casting its treasured warm flame.
If you must, rest now, poet.
But know that your moment
is yet for your fetching.
It waits for your calling.
From inside that light
still stretching toward you.
Call it gently.
Call it gently.
Light will cross over to same.
From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own — populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness — an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.