As It Is or As I Am – the Art of Becoming

A journey … towards … being

For a Dancer

As part of the Cruse portfolio we were asked to review a poem about bereavement/death.  I choose a song by Jackson Browne.

The following are lyrics from the song titled “For a Dancer” by Jackson Browne (1974). It related to a way of coping with the death of someone. The lyrics would no doubt have particular poignancy for Jackson with the suicide of his wife, a few years later in 1976. I first heard this song nearly 35 years ago now (wow that makes me feel old!) and nearly each listen it still touches me. Indeed, have considered adding it to my list of songs to be played at my funeral. For me, it captures the many unknowns concerning death:

Verse one touches on the timing, the suddenness of death, how unexpected it can be.

The second verse continues with the struggle to understand death, along with ways of coping with what has happened.

Third verse brings in our uniqueness, that whatever way we experience life, it will be ours and ultimately death, though others may be with us, is ours alone to experience.

Fourth verse seems to go back to the theme of the first verse, in that there is so much uncertainty, but that we should not let that stop us from life.

The final verse reflects on how death will come to us all, continuing on from the previous verse, that we should be doing things now – sowing seeds – even though we may not see the fruit ourselves.

For a Dancer

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don’t remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you’d always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you’re nowhere to be found

I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing
I can’t help listening
And I can’t help feeling stupid standing ’round
Crying as they ease you down
‘Cause I know that you’d rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away
(Right on dancing)
No matter what fate chooses to play
(There’s nothing you can do about it anyway)

Just do the steps that you’ve been shown
By everyone you’ve ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another’s steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
(The world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know

As I read the words rather than hear them sung, it has a slightly different feel to it – very poignant, yet not morbid.


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