Let Nothing You Dismay: Rock the Bells

It’s strange to me that nobody seems to expect anything in the way of an explanation these days. Nothing in the world surprises anyone anymore, unless, you know, someone decides to go all Jerry Bruckheimer with their rage.

I guess I’m not a person who can live without explanations or surprise.

Does the ticking of that clock bother you?

I’m waiting like everyone else. In the morning I’ll get in my car and drive and blast music and try to get my heart to open, and I’ll go through it all and it will smart a little bit and it will be bittersweet and it won’t be like it once was, because so many essential hearts are now absent, but it will be something I nonetheless look forward to because I can’t help myself.

For a few hours, and maybe even longer, I might even be able to
forget about the saddle on my back, and perhaps no one will notice that
I’m now so stooped that I can’t even see who or what is riding me. It’s
more likely, of course, that they will notice –how could they not?– but won’t say anything out of kindness and courtesy.

The
truth is they all probably know a whole lot more than I do, and can see
me more clearly than I could ever hope to see myself. All I know
anymore is that whatever’s in the saddle is reckless, heedless, and
something of a mess maker. He’s steered me into all sorts of places I
don’t belong, and left behind quite a trail of wreckage. Oh, shit yes,
my rider and me, we’ve broken all sorts of stuff that’ll never be
fixed.

Still, I’ll do what I always do and try to feel whole while doing it. I’ll go to a little family market that has been downtown for more than a century, and I will buy oysters and cream, just as I did when I tagged along with my father as a child.

And I’ll go at midnight and sit with my mother and what is left of my family and we will listen once again to the stories about that long, long ago night when a wondrous bright star appeared to shepherds tending their flocks in the fields and an angel spoke to them of great tidings and three wise men were drawn to a manger in a town in the Middle East where an outlaw was born. And whether you believe those stories or not, you cannot deny that they are stories that contain all the essential wonder and magic and mysteries and hope of most good stories, then just as now. And you cannot deny that they are stories that forever changed the world, for the better and for the worse, in what sometimes seems like equal measure.

I know that I’ll lift up my voice and sing, because it’s what I’ve always done; it’s tradition, ritual, a habit yoked to memory, and it feels good. And I’ll see all sorts of people who were part of the tribe that raised and educated me and kicked my ass out into the world. And in the early hours of Christmas morning, I will walk with my dog through the quiet, snowy streets that as a child I raced through on my stingray bike in the settling dusk of a thousand summer nights. With any luck snow will be falling, or there will be a clear, deep sky crammed with stars, and up and down every street I will remember dozens of voices and faces and the sound of laugher in dark backyards and the smell of my father’s cologne and all those Christmas mornings so long ago now, when I laid awake almost breathless with anticipation in the darkness of my bedroom, listening for sleighbells and waiting for the first light of morning.