Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gratitude and the Flood

So what happened for a lot of us last night was a 24-hour virtual wake for Clarence Clemons. I couldn't tear myself away from the tweets and posts and links that were pouring out from fans all over the world - ended up getting very little sleep last night, actually. Dave Lifton has a nice post about how social media has kept many of us connected, over at his blog Wings for Wheels. It sort of wrapped up this evening when many of us agreed to play "Jungleland" - as loud as we could blast it - simultaneously, worldwide, at 6pm Eastern. This unleashed a torrent of tweets and a truly beautiful sense of connection. And, as one of my Twitter friends (I'm sorry that I've forgotten who) said - when it was over, the silence felt deafening.

I have so many browser tabs open right now, and emails that I marked "unread" so I'd remember to come back to them, new Twitter followers I want to follow back, links and videos and essays and posts and outpourings of love. I don't know how I'm ever going to get to them all; this evening I had to step away from the immersion for a while and just watch the sunset.

And what I want to say is, I am so grateful. It means so much to be a part of this community, to have people in my life who understand that what happened this weekend was much more than just something sad that happened to some celebrity. Like I said in my last post, the E Street Band has stood for something so vital to me and to many of us for so many years. We've lost something that has been a part of us for a very long time. And it makes us realize that eventually, we lose everything, utterly.

Except for love.

So two things tonight. One, I keep thinking about Clarence's family, close friends, his bandmates. If people like me who never even met the guy were so sad they couldn't sleep last night, imagine how bereft they are. I've lost family members, most of us have by the time we get to be middle-aged; it sucks. Sometimes there's a strange kind of elation in the first day or two, as condolences pour in and you feel loved and as you experience the kind of temporary clarity that comes from being absolutely certain about what is and isn't important in this world. Sometimes you're just fucking exhausted. Usually it's some stupid little thing that sends you over the edge and you just crash for a while - when my dad died one of those things was seeing somebody playing the bass, as he did, and remembering how his right hand looked walking up and down the strings and realizing I was never going to see that again. (Those stupid little things can keep popping up and biting you in the ass for years, too. When you least expect it.)

Anyway, I keep thinking about his close loved ones, and I want to send love and spirit in their direction. I think about Bruce Springsteen, who spent the week by his dear friend's deathbed, and who is probably bereft and exhausted and also trying to write some kind of brilliant, comforting eulogy - and I know I can't just show up at his doorstep offering a hug and a casserole (anyway his security people would whisk me away for trying to poison him, which wouldn't be an unreasonable thing to charge me with considering my culinary prowess or lack thereof, but you can't just say "hey Boss, sorry about your friend, have a Lean Cuisine" now can you?) - we can't bring funeral casseroles, so what can we fans do for those who are hurting and grieving even harder than we are?

We can do what we've been doing these past 24-plus hours, which is to send our love out there into the world. Thousands of us all over the world have been doing this - just look at Twitter! - and I want to say, look how much love Clarence Clemons brought into this world to provoke this flood of feelings, look how much love.

And since he's not here to keep bringing the love and the light, on all those stages and all those recordings where his huge spirit could reach millions - since he's not here, let's each of us just put a little more love out there into the world than we used to. We'll never fill the void left by his passing, especially not the musical void (and don't get me started on how sad I am to wake up in a world where I'll never again stand in the middle of a sweaty crowd punching the air while the Big Man wails out the "Jungleland" solo). But we can honor his lifelong work by bringing a little more love to each day. Just a little more than we did before.

It starts ... NOW. Go.


Dave Lifton said...

And you say you're not worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Posnanski...

Anne Haines said...

Okay, Dave - maybe if it's a very, very, VERY long sentence with a bunch of subordinate clauses. That's as far as I will go. ;) (Seriously, thanks - that means a lot coming from a fine writer like you!)

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