On The Song “Across The Universe”
[This post marks the 2nd entry for a blogging experiment within this Project 52 series, as first mentioned in post 32. Twenty posts on music. To be written in a stream-of-consciousness manner, with no editing, within the duration of one record each. I would go back to correct misspellings, though. Did I spell that right, misspellings?
In this case, since only one song is the topic, a loop of many versions of the song was played during the writing. I took the pleasure of playing the loop as much as I could, which translated to a longer entry. Be rest assured though that this length within this experiment would be a first and last.
I hope I didn’t misspell anything. I don’t feel like another run through of it for misspellings. I’m letting this one go already.]
It is no coincidence that I am writing this post on a day at work when a few rules have started to be imposed, with a few stricter ones to follow. I am cool with rules, actually, because I prefer order to chaos –
– which doesn’t cancel out the fact that preference over something does not equate to dislike for the thing overshadowed by the preferred.
Let me put it this way, to some degree, a little chaos is, I don’t know, charming? Alluring? Seductive?
It is not chaos that I like. I like randomness, that’s what. Randomness as manageable chaos. That’s what spurs creation, after all.
So, in spite of the new rules which I have to observe now, the imposition of which having probably been roused by certain abuses of the seduction to manageable chaos on my part and on the part of my colleagues, I hold that nothing’s gonna change my world.
* * *
Nothing I can say about this song can inspire or shake the earth or fix the world. Monks could make sense of it more than I do.
I am anything but Zen. Especially since I sometimes get seduced by manageable chaos.
Recent non-stop exposure to this song has meanwhile taught me something about the true meaning of letting go, which, for the longest time, I’ve equated with loss. And who wants loss?
Actually, more than the song, it’s this visual interpretation of the song which hit the nail on its head for me:
It’s just like what that San Miguel chaplain, Father Arman, said during his Ash Wednesday mass. His homily was about abstinence. And never in my life have I abstained during Lent, until I heard what he said.
He said that we have all grown to believe that enrichment can be attained only through gains. We are weighed down by the thought and act of giving things up. He said enrichment, especially the spiritual kind, can be attained best through letting go. And that is what abstinence is all about – letting go.
I remember crying like it’s judgment day. For the next forty days, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t eat red meat. And I felt so healthy and light that I actually got tempted into turning vegetarian.
For everything that we release, we gain something in return. When the girl in the red dress let go of her balloon, the man in the high chair went down, and finally, after all her mistaken and futile efforts, they meet eye to eye.
I don’t wanna cry right now so I’ll close this section by saying that for the moment, I can’t pull off being a vegetarian.
But I can let go of red balloons. I have, lots of them, actually. And damn that good, good priest for being perfectly right, because it feels good indeed.
F*ck, now I’m crying. Jai!
* * *
When I was a kid, I thought of this song as a song of rebellion, the kind of song you’d sing when you want to comfort yourself with something like, “no matter what happens outside, I will do as I please, and I have this world in me where I can run to for comfort and safety, and nobody can touch it or take it away”.
Epic eh? Yeah well, tragedies can be epic. What’s nice and awesome is the cure can be so simple, as simple as a song that assures.
I figure I am not the first one to say this about this song, but I’ll say it just the same, so I’d be one with the invisible chorus that sings it: Across The Universe is about the constancy of grace.
Not rebellion. Not anger. Grace, which had been there from the start and up to the end, pure and unchangeable.
There have been times before when I questioned that, though, because the song could have said something like, “my world will always be alright” or “my world will always be good”.
Why the negation? For a song that supposedly asserts its faith in the good, why the negative “nothing”? Why “nothing’s gonna change my world”?
I guess maybe the song, as much as it believes in grace, recognizes the challenges that grace tends to face sometimes, and overcomes all the time. It is not a sugar-coated stubborn song. It knows.
And because it is such a song that loves and soothes its listeners, it says “nothing’s gonna change my world” instead of “f*ck you to all the f*ckers who’d change my world”.
It is such a wise and powerful song that, through the simple negation “nothing”, it is able to cancel out everything that threatens the grace.
So there, the song even teaches us how to protect the grace – consider the threat as nothing. Grace stands unchallenged, pure, constant.
The song perfectly rounds it all up.
* * *
A friend who now lives in Oklahoma City texted me today, asking how I am. She’s the same one who gets annoyed whenever I worry about her not responding to me. She’s the same one who, from out of the blue, would just text “back straight!”. All the way from Oklahoma she tells me to sit up and stand straight. Not across the universe, just across the seas, but still something that echoes the song.
And John Lennon is long dead and gone, and who the hell am I?
Still, the song and I lived up to meet.