Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Epiphany #15

For all the years of Mardi Gras, it seems to have taken Mr. Steve Earle to figure out that there is a song in the day after Mardi Gras.

There’s so much I need to do

Before I get over you
But I can’t bother with it all
Until after Mardi Gras
All that music in the air
Happy people everywhere
Make it hard to sing the blues
Until Mardi Gras is through

His, of course, is a love song, or an end of love song, but either way, the lyrics and especially the music and his vocal, capture the sense of loss that I feel when Mardi Gras is over.  I can feel that song right now, and I still have 90 minutes of Fat Tuesday to stretch out to the bitter end.

So I've built a fire and I'm sitting in front of it in the dark, my wife asleep on the couch, and I'm waiting for the inevitable letdown.

Tomorrow is Lent.   Tomorrow is reality.  Tonight is Mardi Gras.  Tonight is relief.  Tomorrow is a giving up or the guilt for not having done so.  Tonight is not-that-wild abandon.

For even in this sleepy Southern city, an evening of putting on the beads, listening to untold versions of "Jambalaya," and enjoying rich, satisfying food among friends is a chance to set everything else aside.  But the feeling of melancholy hangs over the evening as well, because this weird, forced, mid-week reprieve is such a small window of unfettered joy.

Tomorrow, like most every other day of the year, the music that still rings in my ears will have a false ring to it.  Cajun dance tunes, Preservation Hall, "When The Saints Go Marching In"--none of these are tunes I reach for or long to hear in a normal day.  Only on this day do their melodies serve as a beckoning call to a city I don't fully understand but want to be in, to a tradition I came to late, but work every year to keep alive in this city.

For those of removed from New Orleans, we don't really get a context for Mardi Gras, and we certainly don't get to enjoy the buildup.  So the event, a meal really, seems all too brief and the time of Lenten discipline far too long.

Me, I've been working my ass off for two months (as the Walter Brennan character on the 1970s TV western used to say, "no brag.  just fact.") and so have most of the people I know, so this whole idea of setting aside some weakness or living a more considered life or practicing spiritual discipline doesn't quite fit.  Not yet.

No, I could use a bit more of the ol' Mardi Gras right now and a bit less of the Lent.  It's been a tough winter, the weather has been a drag, and usual joys of living have been relatively few, so if it's all the same to the set-in-stone religious calendar, I'd like to let the good times roll on a bit more.  Sorry, God.


troutking said...

Laissez Bruce temps roules!

Billy said...

Amen, amen, and a-friggin'-men. And by the way, I have totally stolen from you and am attempting to give up sarcasm for Lent. Mostly because I'm finding the attempt and repeated failures hilarious, and amusing myself has always been something I'm good at.

Maybe I should give that up for Lent...