Jimmy sat, pondering his Guinness and the other people on the patio of the bar.
The other night he had had a conversation in that same bar with a songwriter about watching people, the songs came from watching people, watching life. He had said that, well, yes, but you had to get involved in their lives, get into the life of it up to your elbows. To feel the breath and blood of it. Yes, your heart could get bent and dented, but there was real music there. Ultimately, what you gave, you gave, and it wasn’t for something back. Well, in his case, he was in it as much for the story as the life. What you got from life, you gave to the song. No risk, no gain.
Now he was leaning back and thinking about the women he had known. There had been some really remarkable women. It had never been about pretty, or boom-boom, it had always been about heart, vision, strength, toughness, talent and competence, and the solutions used to resolve problems. And yes, stubbornness.
It was about their lives.
There was one who couldn’t sing, but could fill a room with how she did it, she carried a sword and was nearly the meanest person he had ever known. But she did what she did so well.
She couldn’t have children. The last time he had seen her she had called and asked him to come by. She had gone through a windshield, had no scars, but somehow had had a daughter from it all. She wanted him to be the father with her.
Out of the blue, and a couple of years, of all of the people she knew, she wanted him.
That really was something. He would have tried a couple of years earlier, but he simply couldn’t now.
People, including him, could get trapped by the choices they had made. It was interesting. They could always step outside their past, they couldn’t leave it, but be responsible for it, and change their lives . It just took courage: To come clean with yourself, and change it.
One was perhaps the most remarkably competent, demanding person he had ever meet. She could, and would stand at the door to Hell and tell the Devil to go screw himself. She would do it in a heartbeat if it needed to be done.
It was a funny thing: on the other hand her dedications were to a concept, she was nearly devoid of involvement in the actual individual “life and breath” humanity that makes up interactions between people.
She, however, was trying to help the people and lives he could only write about. She didn’t know that world, like he did, the people. She just knew it could be twisted, and worked to change it. He didn’t really know how to bridge between writing about it, and changing it.
There was Gail, whom he had known on the internet and phone. He had felt it kind of embarrassing that he would or could get so involved with someone he had not really met, but he did. Really, it was his life that had gotten so insular that he had been fishing in whatever of life was available. And really, what was the difference between meeting someone on the Internet or in a store, in a church, or in a pub? You needed to learn who they really were.
The communication had been real. He knew that. The emotions real. He had been touched, and knew he had touched.
How she did what she did, the artistry, the sensitivity. The stories, the anguish, the drama, the care, the heart. He was a thirsty man, thirsty for all of the life he could find.
The heart though…. He thought perhaps that one viewed ones own heart much more harshly than others with a different perspective. One knew ones own secrets, and condemned oneself for them. Others knew their own secrets, and dealt with them however they choose. There had been a slip in a phone conversation, when he knew he had been dealing with someone considerably older than he had thought. There were inconsistent story details.
There were stories that were totally different than previous stories. There was way too much drama.
It didn’t matter to him though. Really it had never mattered. Through it all there was the heart, the person who was home. He ignored his own questions. He wanted to make it safe enough for her to tell him, he wasn’t there to judge, but simply to help.
As it sifted down things got more distant. He never did get the whole story. Eventually he dug up his own confront, looked at his own omissions, and consequent derelictions of his own integrity. He started putting the pieces together in someway that could make sense.
It seemed to him that what she did was generate sympathy over the internet from men, and they would send her gifts, and money. He presumed there was no crime if there had been no request for the gifts. While in one sense it was heartless, in another, she was simply selling dreams, to people that needed them. It was fair trade.
It is a sad song he thought.
And still, there were aspects of truth in her creations, and those creations brilliant.
Anything was possible. It could be that the truth was that, like the rest of us, or himself, she had gone through one of life’s really crippling train wrecks, and with creative vision, the help of a set of photos and a plan, had put together something that allowed her to reach into life again.
A stretch, but possible. Virtual, perhaps, but like his own current existence, reaching for life, any life, was the whole point. He simply didn’t know. Anything was possible.
Really, he thought, he was not all that different from the “twisted people and lives” he was writing about. Probably worse, because he did know better.
Maybe he should go to work for a newspaper!
As time went on, he continued to pull the strings, and watch how she dealt with people. As it played out it seemed that there was nothing that she said, was true. It was fascinating. Nothing was true, except the heart that made it all work.
What he saw was that she would get into these vindictive vendettas with idiots. Blow them out, then draw them back, and go through it all again.
It was like she was fishing: the lives were real, the bait was not.
Imagination is such a wonderful thing he thought. People really should be, and are, free to be whom they want to be. They do that with their lives everyday anyway. That is really all you do. It really is all you can do.
The life you are living really is your wildest dream. As out of control as it may seem, your life really is your wildest dream.
Outside the box is cool, particularly when done with skill, care and responsibility.
Real pirates sail with the truth!
Maybe some form of justice was being served. He probably saw only the surface. Maybe it was only about money, maybe broken hearts. Again, anything was possible.
It was an odd game.
“Evil really is the intention” he had thought, “the intention to confuse, or make less of others, for whatever reason”.
And, really, evil was in his own attitudes, presumptions, willingness to “know better”, but not actually “live better”.
Brilliance was no excuse.
Not even his own.
Evil was evil whether in wolf’s clothing, sheep’s clothing, draped in the promise of no clothing at all, or even veiled in sanctimonious words.
Evil is an intention.
He couldn’t really help her. It was unavoidably, undeniably, frustratingly, and really entirely, her problem. Just as his own problems were his, alone. He could disagree with her life, love her heart, and all he could do was write about it.
Things did change. It took a while but he had stopped wondering, stopped looking for the song and started to learn to really give himself to this dance. She started telling him, he started simply to ask. They continued to build one of the more interesting relationships either of them had ever known. They never had done anything with it, they never even had actually met, but they had earned a friendship. He was glad to have known her.
He was curious though, did DaVinci, Monet, Picasso, Modigliani have difficulties with involvement with the lives of their models?
Van Gogh did, he knew that. So did he.
Jimmy sat back, took another sip of his Guinness, and flashed a quizzical half smile at the young people milling, talking, laughing and looking on the patio. “May you live in interesting times” he thought.
He did wish them well.