At the first light of day our canary awakens and begins to sing. He has a fine collection of songs, and as he watches the other birds outside his window, he gets inspired and wants to add his sweet voice to the waking life within this enormous aviary.
We also have a fine collection of songs, songs remembered from the younger days, although lately the singers’ voices have one by one gone quiet, and we can no longer ignore the fact that soon they will all be silent. Then there will be a great wave of lovely silent music from an etheric choir poised on the edge of remembrance, until even the memories themselves have faded, and what remains is what has always been — everything just as it is.
I see the young people of today, so hopeful. I hear their music. Dare I tell them that their songs will also fade away? They don’t want to hear that, we certainly didn’t. My parents went out dancing to music bands that no longer exist. My parents no longer exist. Maybe sometimes I will hear a ghostly tune from my parents’ days, and I think of them, dancing in the midst of their life. They didn’t want to hear any talk about impermanence then, few do.
Even as a boy I always knew that this was not going to last — this life, these songs. This recognition inspired me to discover some intrinsic meaning to it all. What I found was that, even though the mind can devise innumerable stories to comfort and confirm itself in the midst of uncertainty, none of them will hold up to the truth as it gradually or all at once reveals itself.
Then the question becomes: what is it to live without meaning, without adding or subtracting, without superimposing or fabricating, but to simply let things unfold as they will? And at last, to even let go of such questions altogether? To dance with the music, to fall in love and give oneself completely to it, to life as it is, and then to fade with the song into silence, without resistance or demand that things be otherwise, and without any certainty to wrap oneself up in as the looming night approaches?
So many songs have served as the soundtrack of my life, most of which have long since been forgotten. Some lyrics here and there flicker in and out on the best of days. However, there was a line I do recall from one of the old tunes that now seems perfectly apropos: “When the music’s over, turn out the lights.” Yes, let others rage if they must against the dying of the light, I will revel in the stillness of that dark and silent night.