I was thinking through a mix of Buddhist and Jungian ideas here, but mostly, it’s my own coming to terms with the teemingly vast, multiperspectival nature of life, where all those that live, and have lived, are innumerable – especially if you are including non-human, as well as human, kind – each being sharing some recognisable similarities and desires:
All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death, all love life.
See yourself in others
Then whom can you hurt?The Buddha
I suppose it’s a version of the Golden Rule, which I have always found a useful life principle, a ‘rule to live by’: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ The other way of putting this is: ‘Don’t do to others that which you wouldn’t want to have done to yourself.’ While nothing human is infallible, I do think that living according to such guidelines gives us a helpful orientation. The Golden Rule has been an attempt, over the millennia, to whittle down a ‘philosophy for life’ into a few practicable words, and you can find it in most, if not all, wisdom traditions.
So, the perpetual process of comings and goings, arrivals and departures – the sheer baffling epic multitudinous scale of all this – is present in the lyrics, as is pondering the oh-so particular and one-off nature of life.
I was also becoming aware, at the time, of how one needs to sink into the depths of oneself and do the inner ‘shadow’ work whereby we gradually integrate the painful, alienated or outcast places in ourselves. As Carl Jung put it, ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious’.
Then there is the bird imagery. Well, this is a common trope, I’ve noticed, in my writing. Birds and flight are key metaphors that crop up over and again.
I still have a little card pinned onto a board that was given to me many years ago, back in the last millennium, by my good friend Eileen, where she has written ‘Little bird, fly’. It still means the world to me and I’ll always be grateful for that encouragement ‘to fly’.
May we all find our wings!
What helps to create the musically inter-woven effect in this song are the wonderful recording performances from Pete on drums, double bass from Owen, Cass’s violin, John’s pedal steel and Rob’s flute. Diolch eto, ffrindiau annwyl.
If I wish to loosen what’s holding me, how shall I begin?
And if you wish to loosen what’s holding you, how shall we begin?
All things wish to fly high against blue …
Dream of ocean, roomfuls of ocean
Dream of sinking to where creatures of the deep
Come crowding all around you,
You cry out in your sleep.
You thrash wildly at the shadows
You bite hard on your tongue
Until you see yourself in the faces of even the scariest ones.
All things wish to fly high against blue
The wish to fly will carry you …
Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of fathoms
And you never can get to the bottom
You go thousands and thousands and thousands of miles
And you’re always arriving and always departing
Millions and millions of sentient beings
And every one wanting their lives to continue
The taking and giving, the in and the out
Of the breathing, the teeming, the teeming of life
It goes on, it goes on, it goes on, it goes on it goes
On it goes, on it goes, on it goes on
it goes on.
You can listen to ‘All Things Wish To Fly’ here.