Up Above The Lights | 7.4.21

The Sunday Edition

I speak of a wide variety of topics on this here Signal Fire, this newsletter/essay/meditation/exploration of the inner workings of my very bizarre mind. I speak of love, yes, I speak of loss, true. I speak of the universe, of the questions unanswerable that seem to hide inside it. I speak of wanderlust, of stillness that’s been forced upon us. I speak of my wife, I do at length, I speak of myself, fears, inadequacies, and I ask a hell of a lot of questions that I’m always looking for your opinions, as the readers, as the interactors (probably not a word) with this strange world inside my brain. I hope, these newsletters offer you a bit of reprieve from the normal b.s. that probably finds its way into your inbox. I hope that each Sunday, it serves as an escape from the spam email and business offerings from every single place you’ve ever shopped at. I hope you ask questions, too. I hope it plants seeds of hope, of joy, of love, of introspection, and I hope, so much I hope on this here Independence Day, that it brings you freedom. That’s the aim.

Today, it’s a simple one, it’s just a memory, and you might be asking yourself “what does this have to do with Independence Day?” That’d be a fair question, one I’ll hopefully answer. You know by now that my mind works in tangential ways, in metaphorical ones most often. I dance around and around things mentally, explaining them by making them (hopefully) into art. Poetry is how I explain what I know, what I see, what I am. Today I am speaking about a moment I felt an independence that I knew would be lasting, that I knew would be different from all others I had felt before.

The scene: A rainy Tuesday night, October 8, 2019. Ben Nevis Inn right outside of Fort William, in the Highlands of Scotland. We decided to throw together an extremely last minute, impromptu “rehearsal dinner” for every single person who decided to make the mind-bogglingly long and arduous trip from the United States to Scotland, and we decided to do so at the Ben Nevis Inn, a small barn converted into a restaurant, pub, and gorgeous venue at the foot of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom. We lucked out and were given the loft area, a small seating section up above the lower level, looking down on the white lights, on the long communal tables for climbers and hikers to rest and eat, and we all fit, somehow. Near the end of our meal, traditional music began playing down below. The notes started softly, tuning up and settling in, and the melodies rose above the smell of smoke and food cooking, it rose above the white lights, it found us all and pulled us to the railings, pulled us out of our seats. Simply put, we got lost in it. The rainfall, the fog, the lights, the music, the family, the friends. We were together for an occasion that was committing me to a single person for the rest of my life, and all I felt was freedom, all I felt was the independence that comes when you’re entirely yourself, and entirely allowed to be that way. I remember looking over and seeing the faces of those I love, seeing her face as a picture of contentedness, and breathing what was the deepest, most honest, most fulfilling sigh of my life. I remember it like it was yesterday, like it was right now, this breath.

Point is, in this rambling memory I couldn’t help but tell, independence, freedom, can take on a million forms, can be a million things to a million people. Freedom can come from cutting loose, but freedom can also come from tying together, handfasting yourself to another human being in the presence of those you cherish. Sometimes freedom can be running off into the wild unknown, sometimes it can be staying home and taking a bath while listening to music and forgetting the whole world exists. There is no wrong way through this life, as long as your way doesn’t hurt anyone else. There’s no wrong way to feel connected to the great big beyond, no wrong way to celebrate being alive. Find your freedom, your independence, find what makes you love waking up, and put in the hard work to make that thing happen. It’s not supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be meaningful, this time we’ve got on earth. Make your meaning, make your freedom, find what sets you on fire, what lifts up above the lights, above the smoke. For me, it was a simple melody in a simple place with a handful of people I adore.

What is it for you?

The music down below,

lifting up above the lights,

and smoke from the fire.

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson


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