Saturday, July 08, 2006

Max the Sax

I knew a young musician about 25 years ago whom we called "Max the Sax". Max went everywhere with his sax -- out for dinner, grocery shopping, to movies, to picnics in the mountains of Colorado. His sax was always by his side. That behavior became his trademark, and spawned his knickname.

Max was a smart young man. He taught me a lesson I remember in very deep parts of my heart. I asked him once, "Max, you are so tied to it -- just what does that saxophone mean to you?"

Max sat back in his chair, sipped a cup of espresso and said, "Well, I learned a long time ago --- that it will never be the Dad that didn't play baseball with me."

Big lesson.

What we didn't get in our past, we cannot get now by another route. I can't ever fill the spaces marked "having children" or "having a well-adjusted father" with what they were intended for. And I cannot contort my universe to try to fill them with other things - like Max's sax. The holes in Max know the difference between a father and a saxophone. The holes in me know the difference between children and a plate of linguini.

Buddha once said "Suffer what there is to suffer; Enjoy what there is to enjoy."

That which is empty in us is going to stay that way. The fantasy of how our lives were supposed to turn out cannot be retro-filled with a reality that did not occur. Yet, oh how we try.

I look around me and see people trying to get people to be the people they never had - you've seen it too - women who marry a man they hope will be the father they missed -- men who marry women, but who are really looking for Mom. Or, people who try to fill an aching feeling with "stuff." Those are the people who buy a big house to make up for feelings of insecurity, or a fast car to make up for a lost youth. I wonder what the world would look like if we all had to label every object or person in our lives that we were somehow using to assuage a pain or a lack or an ache. I imagine crowds of people and homes full of little "sticky notes" that read "Mother-substitute", "Fending off feelings of betrayal", "the Dad that didn't play baseball", "not getting picked for cheerleader"...and on and on.

And oh, what a loss it is to us and to those we try to shape shift into impossible paradigms. The hard part is that mostly our partners are unaware of the "secret job description" we may have for them (because largely, so are we).

Lordy me it's a wonder we manage at all, isn't it?

So what do we do then, walk around like mobile spiritual Swiss Cheeses? Largely, yes, that is precisely what we are to do. To walk around this world as who we are, full of vulnerabilities, as people who didn't learn everything the first time, as people who need the grace of other people to get by.

It is such a relief, really, if you just listen. Can you hear it? There, in the quiet -- is the sound of a saxophone playing cool, crisp, saxophonic notes into the eternal night sky. Just doing what it does. Being who it is.


Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Mata, you profoundly perceptive and write so bloody well...

spiritual depth charges. i suspect this will stay with me and draw me closer to the heart of the universe much more than this mornings sermon

many thoughts fighting for pole position of my attention but two seem to be winning:

'Field of Dreams' - Dad, you wanna have a catch? that line kills me every time. i have issues with my dad (who doesn't) and this year for my birthday i was bought a father and son pair of baseball gloves for me and my boy to 'build our own field of dreams'
i pray we will but not in a way that will try and exorcise my past

the other is about humanity trying to be something it is not. the great chasms, the grand canyons of our souls perhaps don't seem so wide when we finally learn to love ourselves as God wants us (not easy i know) - so much pretending only brings heartache and poor choices...

wonderful blog friend

3:42 AM  
Blogger samtzmom said...

Boy howdy, isn't that the truth? We are all searching for that sax sound all our lives, sometimes fully unaware that we can't play it or recreate the sound even if we found it. The perfect lives we are searching for just don't exist. What does exist is the life we purposely create moving forward, right? You so inspire me dearest...

7:46 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

What a thoughtful and inspiring post. I'll be thinking on this today.


8:54 AM  
Blogger Rainbow dreams said...

Thank you Mata, so true, thank you

11:49 AM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Thanks, all for your kindness. I've been thinking about this all day today as well...the way we humans substitute one thing for another that doesn't fit ...sigh. More on this is coming, I suspect.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Rainbow dreams said...

I'm still thinking about it too - and have some lovely visuals of cheese and sticky notes to accompany my thoughts! Seriously though, thanks for making me consider this

8:01 AM  
Blogger beth said...

What a profound post. I shall think deeply about the implications of this...

10:50 PM  
Blogger mister tumnus said...

thanks for this post. it reflects something i am right slap bang in the middle of learning. there is all that pain of realising that things aren't going to be how we wanted. but also the joy in letting go of trying to stuff people into moulds that won't fit and enjoy them as they are, being who they be. and maybe even getting to that stage where i can be who i am too.

thanks so much.

2:55 PM  
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