Friday, December 31, 2004

mystery train

buddha's hand: for those lost on december 26, 2004
-gregg chadwick, buddha's hand 2004

We spoke of the tsunami in an L.A. pub last night. Over the sound system the piano intro to "Let it Be" stopped our conversation. Tentatively, yet without prompting, we sang together the first line,"When I find myself in times of trouble..." It was a brief moment but it cut through the evening. The conversation veered to John Lennon's murder and then on to the small disasters in all our lives. I looked around the room, a collection of friends celebrating life. Smiles in our eyes as the little kids at our table drew their own inner worlds. A ten year old lost in a book, i-pod buds in his ears filtering out our musical memories as he created his own. Across the room an older couple sipped wine and whispered to each other. It was as if we all were in the dining car on a train, heading for separate destinations, yet for a brief moment brought together. This random collection of faces would never be together again. Someday each one of us, like the victims of the tsunami would take our walk into the shadows. Or as Van Morrison might sing,"into the mystery." I thought of a fellow traveler, the writer Phil Cousineau and how much this evening missed him. And I realized how much art had brought us all together: words, music, painting and film. I realized how much art gives us common ground to celebrate and to mourn.

As I write this a phone is handed to me - a line to Amsterdam- just after midnight. I can hear Dutch voices and fireworks crackling across the city. The world has never seemed smaller to me both in sadness and in celebration. Happy New Year!

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