We were neighbors out in the country near a small Midwestern town for years. I composed a song about her and her family, back when I spent most of my time making music. It's been years since I've thought about it, but I've been playing through it in my head for the past half hour. I wrote it just before I left for college, and it's a memorial to all the good things about the way of life I was leaving behind.
I always felt that her family really got the whole being human thing. They showed me a way of living and loving simply, with your whole heart. And in the song, I said I'd "keep their lesson with me".
I don't think I've done a very good job of that, I'm afraid. Just the other day, I said that I don't much value ordinary human experience, and that I'm only interested in preserving the possibility of extraordinary aesthetic experience. But when I think about Rosie and the others who inspired my song, I remember pure and simple friendship with joy, laughter, love, empathy, playfulness, authenticity--
and, above all, folk music. Not complex, sacred, ingenious music, like the masterpieces of the classical composers I worship. The simple, raw, imperfect music that is meant to be shared under ordinary circumstances with ordinary people. The music that celebrates ordinary human experience. The music that I used to write.
Sometimes my heart just isn't in this Saving the World thing, because I feel like most of the world is kind of crap, and that humanity has few redeeming qualities. But I guess I tend to forget that Rosie, and people like her, exist. Existed.
"Something to protect"? I thought I didn't have it. But I would have protected her, if I could have. And I would protect the people who laughed with her once. The people who sang with her. I'd protect the people with pure and simple friendship, with joy, laughter, love, empathy, playfulness, authenticity, and celebration. And I must admit: Even I can see that that's just about everyone, at least sometimes.
I haven't changed that much since high school. I just forgot for a while. I wish I could tell her that she reminded me. That even my memory of her is a beacon of humanism. It is very sad that I can't. I can only save the people who are left.
There will be no cancer in the world I'm building. But there will be so, so much folk music.
You're not there to hear me, but I'll say it to myself, and to everyone who's listening, so I remember this time. I miss you, Rosie. I'm sorry. Thank you for everything.
"Take the Time" written 2007, video from 2008