Tuesday’s Tune: River of Dreams

Today’s Tuesday’s Tune post is a guest blogger – Eli Pacheco from Coach Daddy: fatherhood, futbol, and food.  The blogging world is amazing. I ‘met’ Eli several years ago and have been following him ever since. Last year, I realized we were travelling in parallel universes – he in the Carolinas and me in the Midwest. We both have children -he has three and I have two – and the oldest is a senior in high school and both are competitive athletes – making the two of us sideline supporters. We are both very proud of our kids and it shows in our blogging.  I am excited to have Eli here at Making the Days Count – because we are both making our way through life Making the Days Count.

guest post clay lede artphoto credit: I think this is the gear we’re looking for via photopin (license)

When you make the days count – what does it look like?

I envision life brimming with abundance and adventure. Family, wall-to-wall. All-out experiences that shun fear and trepidation. We make the days count in so many ways – so much positive, so much forward-leaning. It’s where joy bumps into bliss and amusement builds to euphoria.

It took a text message from a dear friend today to remind me that Billy Joel’s River of Dreams held a significant spot on my life’s playlist. She’d just heard it, right after leaving Five Guys Burgers. If that isn’t a sign from above, I’m really not sure what goes on in heaven.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To the river so deep

A youth pastor at UNC Charlotte brought this song to our weekly lunch discussion.

Father Gary paid for lunch for anyone who wanted to sit in. The free pizza drew me in; the smart, coherent, spiritual conversation that ensued proved a beloved byproduct. We’d sit around with Pizza Hut and a handful of coeds tossing about theories and theology and life.

This song, more than any other, demonstrated the considerable percentage of the universe that remained hidden from my eyes.

I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it’s too hard to cross

I listened, the me still unmarried (although Gary would officiate my wedding), not a father, trudging along in a major I loved with grades I didn’t. Billy Joel’s lyrics wound like a river themselves, coursing around and through the ideals of faith, religion and innocence.

The album, which bore the same name as the song – depicted Billy Joel as a Christ figure.

It made sense. Over personal pan pizzas, the answers were plain as cheese pizza. The River of Dreams coursed the subject on a spiritual journey, one with no stops along its descent, only the tributary of Christianity waiting at its mouth.

And even though the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find what I’ve been looking for

Did I even hear these words, then? Because now – and for most of my adult life, post-children, post-marriage, neo-real world – I surmised the River of Dreams not as a vehicle from top to bottom, but as a chasm of incredible fear and depth that couldn’t be bridged – only traversed.

That makes for an interesting choice for making the days count, doesn’t it?

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep

To make days count needn’t be about only that sunny abundance I spoke of before. It’s in introspection. It’s in facing fears. It’s in searching for something, so innate in your soul that you recognize its absence much easier than you do its actual form.

And whether you’re a struggling English major or a new dad or a man who finds himself mired in a crossroads at intersections he can’t recognize anymore, you want to make these days count especially.

And I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

I’d imagine the missing pieces could change in a man’s life. Or maybe they evolve with him. And although he feels he could, at 44, win a footrace with himself at age 24, the fact is days are shorter. There are fewer days to make count.

This immediately drives up the value and urgency to make those days count. And propagate a sense of fear and finality.

I don’t know why I go walking at night
But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I’ve been looking for

In some days, those missing parts are as stark as if we’d cut them out with scissors ourselves.

We know what’s missing. We realize what’s lacking.

So the search continues. Not just across the river, but into ourselves. If a man’s lucky enough to solve himself at 43, he’s wise to get a start on the same journey at 44. He’ll change. His surroundings will change. And he might not be easy to recognize, even to himself.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the jungle of doubt
To a river so deep

Because when life makes less sense at 43 years, 10 months as it did at 42 years, 10 months, you wonder if you’d taken the wrong path at all. That path, though, isn’t available now. The only path is yours. You can look back over your shoulder, but there’s no going back.

I know I’m searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
Through the eyes of the blind

It’s at this point that visions of that missing part, so palpable you could see the edges and searched for something in exactly its shape, fade. Eyes close, mind takes over. That something lost is you. Bit by bit, molecule by molecule, sheared away by life and love and loss and loved lost and found again.

It’s a steady deterioration – or is it chaffing away the old to give new life?

In the middle of the night

What’s blown away is you, yes, but it comes from a source. That’s more truly you, because it’s the you that endures and regenerates. You wake one day, as man in his 45th year, and you see the wear and tear. You wonder where the man who gained such love and accomplished much, back then, went.

It’s then you admit that the elements that made that man are still at your disposal. This is the time to stop fighting the tide, stop fearing the current, and make the days count as you are – imperfect, perhaps a bit sapped for emotion and strength, but, at your core – still you.

It’s not from God or a girl or medication or doctrine. The strength and courage to endure and persevere and face whatever fate awaits you – from paradise to purgatory – that lies within you.

I’m not sure about a life after this
God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man
Baptized by fire, I wade into the river
That runs to the promised land

It’s impossible to gauge how well you’ve made past days count. Some burst with activity and progress. Others barely register a blip. They’re all necessary, and represent your trajectory. What you’re prepared for tomorrow, maybe you’re unfit to face today. That timing impacts your course, too.

And you can’t measure it with any quantifiable method, but you know the key lies in the balance between conscious decisions and an adherence to the laws of a universe that give you the tiniest of oars to navigate on your own.

It’s what forces you to trust the current and the wind – and to appreciate the interim when the waters still and the wind dies. That an awareness of it all is the only way to make the days count.

We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
By the river of dreams

 In the middle of the night

How will you make them count?

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22 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Tune: River of Dreams

  1. Steve Winwood’s song “Higher Love” has this same effect on me. I revisit it every few years. When life changes; from wife to mom to wannabe world visionary. I find the central “thing” remains strong, in terms of how the song moves me: Love Better! Even though interpretations and applications may change or shift. It’s good to have a song like this in your life. Something that keeps you examining yourself, the world, your place in it. It’s like an old friend traveling alongside me; except with a better singing voice. And hair. 🙂

    1. Patricia – thanks for stopping in and you are so correct about improvement. We are all works in progress. I hope you and the Baer House are well – checked in with my step-mom (Oxford) last night and she reported the lights went out for an hour or so but came back on. She reported it got windy and loud. Praying for Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    1. Thank you Eli – great post and perfect for the season. As Patricia pointed out above – the biggest area we have in our lives is for improvement – we all are a work in progress. it’s mindful to know we are not alone. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – may it bring us all Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

  2. I’ve only met Eli fairly recently, but he’s one of those personable guys you feel like you’ve known for years. Great piece here. And that song is rife with meaning. Great song by a great song writer shared by a great blogger. Who can disagree with the whole “River of Life” metaphor?

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Eric. They are certainly reciprocated. This song is definitely rife with meaning – I love meaty songs like this, songs that can mean something different to us in various stages of life. I’m sure it’ll apply to a future stage for me, too.

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