There were days, there were days,
There were days between.
Summer flies and August dies,
And the world grows dark and mean.
Comes a shimmer of the moon
On dark, infested trees;
Singing man is at his song,
The holy on their knees,
The reckless are out wrecking,
The timid plead their pleas.
No one knows much more of this than anybody sees,
-Robert Hunter (music by Jerry Garcia, performed by the Grateful Dead, in many incarnations)
[Author’s Note/Announcement: Just after 10 am Eastern time yesterday, Mars stationed direct. Mars retrograde is over. Hopefully, this means I can shut up about astrology for a while. Please understand that I appreciate your patience and have had little choice in the matter. There were some good times, but it was a very difficult period – 110% of the effort for 50% of the results, to paraphrase Gordon White – for me and many others. Here’s hoping for easier times ahead.]
I’ve talked about this song on many occasions and it’s time for me to talk about it again. I was driving alone Saturday afternoon (you’ll notice a pattern with the thoughts while driving alone) minding my business, jiving out to some Budos Band. It occurred to me that I hadn’t really been listening to much Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia the last couple weeks. Less than usual, for sure. Momentarily okay with this, I suddenly flipped, feeling compelled to put this song on.
It may have been sudden and stark, but the compulsion was timely. It’s normal for certain of Robert Hunter’s lyrics to come to mind at this point in the year. “Summer flies and August dies, and the world grows dark and mean,” is an obvious one (“When the last rose of summer pricks my finger and the hot sun chills me to the bone,” is another big one; maybe we’ll cover that another day soon). As soon as I put it on, I found myself immersed, the song deftly and directly playing my nerves, my too-often-neglected emotions flooding to the forefront. It’s a very deep and emotional song, after all. That’s true just by looking at the lyrics of the four simple verses, and especially so if you hear it sung – whether by Jerry, its original singer, or Bobby Weir, for whom the song clearly holds very special meaning. You can hear it in his voice. He might even do it better than Jerry (gasp!).
This time, the words of this first verse were roughly twice as timely as I’d been thinking, what with the “Comes a shimmer of the moon” landing mere hours before the last full moon of summer would rise – not to mention the specter of Mars Retrograde’s long-awaited conclusion lurking behind everything I’m doing and thinking about.
Each of the four verses of the song can be said to describe or be set in one of the four seasons, starting with the end of summer. Everything is as it should be – everyone is fulfilling their roles, for good or for ill, even as decay creeps into this yet-beautiful scene. Whether we think we understand it or not, it’s impossible to prove that we actually do, that any of us know any more of any of this than what we can see, than what we experience each day or even in any given specific moment.
Maybe you like to think you do see all of everything going on and understand it to some degree. I know I do. But do we really get it? Or is what we get just shades and shadows on the all? Is it just so vast and so much bigger than all of us, that all we can hope for in these Days Between birth and death is the attempt at learning, loving, and growing, to catch glimpses of meaningful phantoms, perhaps to stand upon the world’s mountaintops, chase glows, and, above all else, hope that love does not forsake us.
Pay attention to this song. If you don’t like Grateful Dead music, don’t listen to it, but see if you can find something just in these words. There’s a lot there.
And if you do like Grateful Dead music – or even if you just like adventures, documentaries, and/or good stories – this will be a good week for you. At long last, Episode 18 is coming. The story of SPAC 2018 will finally be told, with all the literary flourishes you’ve come to expect and love. Stay tuned.
And if you like what we’re doing here with this project, check out the Patreon. It’s better than average.