Joni's new album arrived yesterday. It is playing now for the umpteenth time and will continue as the soundtrack of choice here for another day or so. It's a privilege and an inspiration to receive another musical statement from her. She is one of my primary life lights. Meeting her is the one of my "If you had three wishes..." answers that has persisted over time.
I chuckled when they mentioned her smoking American Spirits in the article. That's my brand, too. I was turned on to cigarette smoking and Joni Mitchell in the same year, 1972 -- cigarettes in the Spring and Joni in the Fall when I entered college. It was a couple of years before I found out that she smoked. One of my most enduring psychological impediments to giving up cigarettes is the knowledge that the musical artist I admire most in the world is a chain-smoker.
Note: Don't bother to challenge the logic or sanity of this notion. I know, I know...
So the music and lyrics of "Shine" accompanied me into dreamland last night. I found myself in a cozy attic apartment (similar to my lodgings in Brighton, CO at Jason and Mandy's) surrounded by books and recorded music and candles and my guitar and piano...all my favorite things. And my favorite people, including Joni. And my favorite textures: corduroy and satin, leather and feathers and silk and linen. And there was about the scene the feeling that I was Home, that this was my last place on Earth.
The talk among the visitors in my Last Place was honest. We talked about hard things in the same spirit that Joni comments on the hard things of this world in "Shine": seeing clearly, feeling the sadness and anger...not raging and distraught but seeing the Hard as clearly as the Soft, the Glory as well as the Tragedy. Holding it all as The Way Things Are.
Some in the group were walking the path of protest and resistance; others had chosen the path of prayer. There was peace and love among us. We understood that none of us had The Answer, only our earnest personal choice of style of engagement.
If there is a God Father in a lofty distant press box watching the Show, He must by now be wondering about that original decision to endow His creation with Will and Freedom of Choice. Or perhaps He knew all along that we would tear it up -- He just wanted to see exactly how we'd do it.