I’ve been too long in the wind, too long in the rain,
Takin’ any comfort that I can.
Lookin’ back and longin’ for the freedom of my chains
and lying in your loving arms again.
—— Kris Kristofferson
For the past few days I’ve been haunted by these lyrics and of course I couldn’t remember the third line exactly so I researched the words on the infallible source of all information: my computer. It knows everything and I am always curious about HOW it knows everything but then I accept its wisdom and move on. For example, I discovered that Kris Kristofferson wrote the song and recorded it with Rita Coolidge. I wasn’t surprised really because Kris is a wonderful lyricist and sang with a number of women through the years. I was totally surprised, though, at the list of artists who had recorded the Loving Arms ballad. Olivia Newton-John. Dobie Gray. Glen Campbell. Mr. Presley himself. Kenny Rogers. And more recently, the Dixie Chicks. I was also stunned to learn that I can send the tune to my cell phone as a ringtone. I’ll pass on that opportunity for now.
I digress. It’s common for the words of a country music song to occupy my mind for several days. I like country music. I listen to country music when I’m driving around in my old Dodge Dakota pickup by myself. When I’m in Texas, I typically leave the kitchen radio set to the country legends station in Houston and turn the radio on as soon as I get up in the morning– right before I pop the top of my first Diet Coke of the day. I turn it off late in the evening and the little click the radio makes is my own version of Taps.
I digress further. I tried today to reflect on the words and why I had the song in my head in a kind of loop. I’ve been too long in the wind, too long in the rain. Over and over again I sing it. Sometimes I even sing out loud, but mostly it’s inside. Were those the lines that mattered? Was that the secret code? Nope. No more suspense. No more digression. The key word is comfort. Takin’ any comfort that I can. I love the word Comfort. You can have your words Solace and Console and Ease and Reassure if you want to. Give me Comfort. Seriously, give me comfort. Give us all comfort.
Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. I’m not too sure about this beatitude, but I’ll let it slide because I’d like to believe it. All of us who mourn shall be comforted. Our frontage road of grief will slowly merge into the passing lanes of optimism and hope if we are willing to pay the toll required to enter. We pay a price for the passing lanes that make our travels easier as we watch our grief fade away in the rear-view mirror, IF we are fortunate enough to have the resources within ourselves to cover the costs.
Obviously I have recently been on vacation in the northeastern part of the United States where I spent too much time and money on tollways.
And now I know the third line of the song perfectly. Lookin’ back and longin’ for the freedom of my chains. What a great line it is, too, but that’s a subject for another story and I’ll let you ponder it on your own while I say good night and take my comfort in two loving arms again.
P.S. This was originally posted last August, and I find myself once again preoccupied with the need for comfort after the loss last week of my aunt who was one of the most important women in my life. She was the last intimate connection to a generation in my family that represented the best of my childhood recollections and yet became a close friend in my adult years. I was lucky – really lucky – to spend more time with her in the last year than I had been with her in the previous forty. We had a good time together. We laughed a lot.
Mostly, though, I will miss her love of my writing. She wanted to read every word I wrote and always said it was wonderful. Each time one of my stories failed to win the money prize, she said it would happen next time. She believed in me and my stories and loved me unconditionally. It is difficult to say goodbye. Instead, I will say good night to my favorite aunt from her favorite niece.