Monday, May 20, 2024
Reel Life Journeys

Running, praying and listening to the soundtrack of our lives

My feet pound the pavement, left, right, up, down, endless exertion just to burn a few calories. On the road, my head clears out the daily worries as prayers and ideas float to the top. Inside, my iPod plays my favorite playlist.

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. They slither while they pass, they slip across the universe.

The huge neighborhood hill looms above. Can I make it to the top? A straight line will be quickest if I don’t stop but it’s much too steep. Left, right, up, down, I serpentine the course, foot by foot, rising closer to the summit.

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind, possessing and caressing me….nothing’s gonna change my world.

TV images replay in my mind. The candidates aspire, their words inspire, the confetti swirls around boys and girls, red or blue, red and blue. One way or another, historic changes are about to happen.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy…

The first time I watched Across the Universe, my mouth gaped open in amazement. Though set in America during the late 1960s and early 1970s, this is a film, not a documentary. It’s a musical, magical, lyrical love story that springs from the lyrics of great songs by The Beatles.

For us Baby Boomers, this is the soundtrack of our youth—music we heard when the raw, personal energy of changing from children to adults was amplified with sharp pains of lost innocence; when war and assassinations changed our nation and illuminated the certainty of our own mortality.

There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made. No one you can save that can’t be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. It’s easy…

Across the Universe is a love story between Jude, a ship builder from Liverpool who travels to America, and Lucy, a student-turned-activist who protests the Vietnam War in support of her brother Max, a recent draftee.

Along the way we meet Jojo, Sadie, Prudence, Mr. Kite and other characters who leap out of the songs onto the screen in full and living Technicolor. They are all instantly familiar, for parts of them live in each of us. They become immersed in the events and youthful culture of the 60s, but can’t escape the changes happening around them. They struggle with the physical and psychological horrors of war, both far away and close at home.

I look at the world and notice it’s turning, while my guitar gently weeps. With every mistake we must surely be learning, still my guitar gently weeps.

Slammed around by societal forces, they learn deeply that loss can strike at any time. They become separated by ambition, depression, jealousy, greed and pride. One loses a friend, another loses a lover; one loses his mind, another loses a home.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Jude is forced to reflect on his painful, recent past, deciding who and what is most important in his life. But instead of hiding away on an island in his own corner of the world, he invites more change into his life, choosing to reach out and engage, to live and to love.

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain, don’t carry the world upon your shoulder. For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making the world a little colder.

When St. Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, his world was also experiencing incredible changes. The church was growing in Corinth, Ephesus and Thessalonica, though factions clashed over beliefs. He sent his letter, a literary epistle that outlines many of the universal truths and beliefs in his preaching, to friends as a way to introduce himself to the Romans.

In this weekend’s second reading (Rom 13:8-10), Paul writes that we should “owe nothing to anyone, except to love another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

It’s easy…All you need is love…all you need is love…all you need is love, love is all you need.

But love is more than a feeling or an attitude—it’s a choice, an action, a commitment—to ourselves, to our family and friends, to our nation and the people of this world.

As I finish my run, a new playlist starts, streaming songs from gospel rock band dc Talk. One of the songs stands out:

I don’t care what they say, I don’t care care what ya heard. The word love, love is a verb.

Imagine…if that song became the soundtrack of our lives today.


First published in the September 5, 2008 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2008 Christopher Fenoglio

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