Ode to Billie Joe

Ode to Billie Joe

“Ode To Billie Joe” was a popular song on the radio when I was a kid. Way back then I listened and thought “what a sad, eerie song”. I probably didn’t use the word eerie, but that was the precise feeling that I had.

 

“And brother said he recollected when he, and Tom, and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?
I'll have another piece-a apple pie; you know, it don't seem right
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge
And now ya tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”

 

Bilie Joe didn’t belong, or so he thought. But the reality is that he was part of that community, for better or worse. He was just fine as he was. All he needed was some more time to figure that out.

 

What’s this all about?

 

Well, I lost a friend a few weeks ago.  He was kind, talented, down to earth but also incredibly savvy about the world. He was quick to laugh and slow to judge. And now he’s gone. He passed away from heart failure, brought on by growth hormone use over many years. He also passed, by the way, because of what I call the “Death In Venice” sickness. The idea that youth and physical beauty are the most important currency in the world.

 

As a younger man I understood what it was to want to be an object, and the urge to objectify. To experience the world as a purely temporal experience, overlooking the transcendent value of things. This idea of being connected to a larger idea wasn’t available to me then. My friend was connected to both worlds, and I admired him so much for his ability to look at things deeply, as well as his appreciation for beauty.

 

I’m now deep into middle age, and it’s only now that I can appreciate connectedness with myself and others. I've chewed the scenery for so long, it's a blessing to be able to slow down. Being able to work on my design and create things of use as well as of beauty is a real honor that I greatly appreciate. As I grow older I am learning to appreciate myself more as just being, instead of being some ideal that I'd imagined was so important. Just be.

 

I appreciate each and every one of you. Thanks for being here.

 


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