Something Like a Bird, Within Her Sang

We biked over to Fairfax a couple Saturdays ago. There was a festival going on so a lot of the good spots for locking the bikes were already full (we didn’t know they were offering a free bike valet at the festival – I love Marin!) Finally we chose a sign post at the edge of a small parking area and, while locking up, both noticed a cement plaque of sorts in the ground. Jeph called it a “hippie memorial” because there were some shiny beads and crystals around it. As we started to examine it, we noticed roses carved all around the edge and “Saying Thank You For A Real Good Time” inscribed in the center. I started to get “a feeling” and asked Jeph if maybe it was a Grateful Dead tribute. He confirmed that yes that phrase is from a Dead song. A couple stopped by and confirmed that it was a memorial to Jerry Garcia. I shared with all of them the coincidence of having Dead songs running through my head all week, choosing that spot to lock the bikes, then happening upon the memorial. They added to that coincidence the facts that his birth date was six days prior and the day he passed away was in two days. It started to feel like more than a coincidence.

Jeph and I were both both pretty serious Dead Heads, both went to quite a few shows (long before we knew each other), and still enjoy the music. Something about being in Marin has put that music in my head on a regular basis – Jerry used to walk these streets, Bob Weir still lives around here (maybe others…) As I’ve requested that Jeph play some of the songs I’ve been hearing, some I don’t even know the names of, and really listened to the lyrics (and/or looked them up), some of those words have been really moving.

One that’s in steady rotation in my mind is Bird Song. I had to hum it and sing the one line I knew then Jeph looked it up for me. It’s kind of interesting because apparently it was never part of a studio album they recorded, just played live. I wonder if I ever heard/saw it live?…The tune (by Jerry) and the lyrics (written by Robert Hunter) are just beautiful:

All I know is something like a bird
within her sang
All I know she sang a little while
and then flew on
Tell me all that you know
I’ll show you
Snow and rain
If you hear that same sweet song again
will you know why?
Anyone who sings a tune so sweet
is passing by:
Laugh in the sunshine
cry in the dark
through the night
Don’t cry now
Don’t you cry
Don’t you cry
in the stars
don’t you cry
dry your eyes
on the wind

There’s so much guidance and inspiration I get from the simplicity of that song. Like a good poem or piece of visual art, much of the power and resonance comes from the spaces between the words/sounds/lines/colors.

What it means to me

  • Birds – as a whole, they are definitely power animals for me. J and I have both always payed attention to them and, since making our “bird film” their power has become stronger in my life (and Jeph’s too). Their songs and calls symbolize the songs and stories we all have within us and the ability to express ourselves.
  • Snow and Rain – I’ve been through it, baby and will always have a piece of New Hampshire winter in my heart/soul/body. They are both stark and dark, cleansing and renewing. They help us find those “spaces in between” – the stillness and emptiness that lets us expand and evolve. I’ve had my share of snow (and cold) and am happy to embrace the  milder, yet still cleansing/renewing, rains of Marin.
  • Sunshine – it does make me laugh, and smile, sing, and dance. It makes me healthy and happy. It is healing and energizing. Amen for its abundance here in Marin.
  • Cry in the dark; Don’t cry now- It’s a good release. It’s the yin to the yang of laughing/smiling. Sometimes they flow through us at the same time. By Letting It Out (the sadness, sorrow, suffering, pain, and challenges of life), we make space (back to that theme – I guess we never left!) for the sunlight.
  • Sleep in the stars; Dry your eyes on the wind – The beauty, majesty, and power of the dark sky and bright stars and planets above us. I am (we are) able to see them and really connect with them out here in the country, away from the big city lights. They do help me sleep; they’re like a cozy blanket that surrounds me in dream land. And the fresh country air, it helps me to really breathe – deeply and fully.  It’s hard to get stuck in sadness/tears when you really breathe and recognize the gift of that air. It reminds you of the beauty and power of life, sadness and tears included.

If you’re not familiar with Bird Song, or haven’t heard it for awhile, I recommend giving a listen.

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