I’m still standing


I don’t know really why, but the first thing I did after getting home from the movie at dusk was to sit on the back porch with the dog and a glass of white wine as chilled as the early June air.

On the eve of my 70th birthday, seeing the biopic “Rocketman” had unsettled me. After all, Sir Elton was born only two years before me and in ’67, when I was a senior at RFA, met Bernie Taupin in London whence the two had gone on to record a major portion of the soundtrack of my life for the next three decades.

My sister had called, said she had seen the film, and wanted to see it again. Certain scenes and themes of his childhood had touched her deeply and resonated with her relationship with our parents. Did I want to go? 

Intrigued, I went and the flick was certainly a turbulent ride, which I needed to ruminate on.

The dog, sensing my disquiet nestled his head on my lap. All that fame, all that fortune, all that angst and dejection… like being on a solid gold rocketship filled with everything money can buy heading into the sun. When I saw him at the Nassau Coliseum in the early-70s, right when Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was a massive hit, I couldn’t understood why he seemed so angry. He kept violently throwing the piano bench off the stage only to be brought back up again (or a new one) to be discarded again. All that welled-up chaos and its origin is revealed here. 

I shivered and pulled mom’s favorite afghan over my shoulders. Seven decades ago on this night I somehow positioned myself just right for my turbulent, headfirst ride into the world. Is this all preordained? A life being lived and heading into the next moment, unknown to all but the Source that is animating it? I looked back at some major forks in the road that had been taken. A life lived in comparison is pretty much filled with languor and unease I have found. But at such milestones as this rumination is inevitable. A quick cure for that is the thought of family and friends that never made it to this point. But still, what if…

The world dripped softly in the drizzled waning twilight, turning details into silhouette. A neighbor had recently cut down a massive hemlock, opening my private park-like yard to rooftops and a view of the western sky. The trunk of a dead pine on the other side of the fence etched the slate sky in a jagged black line. I hate that tree, it blights my horizon. Figures, cut down the live one, leave the dead one. It is what should not be but IS. 

Just then a bird alighted on the top branch. A grackle, a robin, I could not tell. But I could tell that it was a symbol of freedom. Like Elton with all his fame and fortune. With its wings it could fly anywhere, a seemingly infinite number of perches from which to ponder this lovely earth. 

Hum. Does a bird ponder? While contemplating this, a similar bird joined it for a minute or two then flew off. But my new-found friend stayed put, staring my way. It seemed to say, “Yes, Dan, I can go where I want. I could fly to the most beautiful dogwood tree, in the most beautiful part of the countryside. Perhaps the giant Norway spruce in Root Glen, to inhale the sweet scent of the hybrid peonies. But right now this is where I want to be. Sitting here staring at you, staring at me. And it is enough.

Yes, and I’m still standing.


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