Jim Lange Published

My Lithium Sunset


Whatever our homes say about us, mine is one that is filled with sound.

We reside in an area two blocks from the bridge and a stone’s throw from the busiest avenue in the city.

CAMC, our neighbors, is building a new cancer center across the street. All the while demolishing buildings, one row over from us, to “put up a parking lot.”

The helicopters are a thunderous obliteration of all — hovering and landing on the CAMC helipad (No emails please, I know this is life-saving business.). There is also the constant Valhalla rumble of the coal trains — the natural echoing of the valley makes these rolling behemoths the king of noise makers.

Untold armies, at any time of day, of grass mowers and weed whackers carry on their deafening insect drones. Not to mention my Freebird neighbors who believe that the larger and louder a truck, the higher their social standing. Good times.

The noise within the house would likely shock.  It is not unusual for the TV to be on so loud that conversation is negated. This situation is exacerbated by the networks’ practice of boosting the decibels of commercials.

“Where’s the volumizer?” either one of us might ask. The volumizer is our name for the TV volume control. Finding this and other “nodules” (I count five in all) is usually an impossible task done under the duress of the solid wall of sound.

To top all this, my guitar practice and writing takes place right off the TV room. Did I mention that the phone rings off the hook some days? It’s truly a madhouse.

How do you find any peace?

The trick is not to fight the noise, nor try to block it, but rather to invite an inner silence. A delicate thing this inner peace and quiet, but like most husbands, I can tune out anyone or anything. Just ask Beverly.

Last night, standing outside my home, looking across my very average lawn, gazing at a very glorious CAMC sunset (as I call them), I got a real sense of peace. It was one of those moments when all seemed well. At least, for that moment, life had begun a cease fire and all seemed quiet on the Western front. No trains, no chopper, no weed whackers. Even traffic seemed to have stopped.

The only movement was a robin that was busy searching the freshly cut grass. But,the sunset! It was a glorious explosion of color as if God was just showing off. Or maybe it was a sign.

I tend to believe in signs that are more of a traffic nature than those I might imagine are divine. Don’t get me wrong, I am a man of faith, but I don’t assume that I have the wherewithal to interpret God. If God has something to say to me, He better dumb it down.

I know a friend who, when he sees a grasshopper or a dragonfly, firmly sees this as a note from the Big Man. I’m not sure what God might be saying with a grasshopper, but who am I to judge?

There is a story about the Buddha who had his followers gathered around him. The Buddha picked a flower and held it up. That was his sermon, period. The story goes that only one of the gathered showed understanding. Joseph Campbell said the Buddha was asking, “What is the meaning of a flower?” A flower, like a lot of things, simply are and no further meaning need be assigned nor searched for. Many things simply “are” and that’s it.

I tend to agree. Most of us walk about, acting like we know what we’re doing and have figured it all out. Such arrogance. You see, that’s the mind playing tricks on us again. Our hearts know what we want and what we secretly desire, all the while our souls reach out to connect with the ephemeral, the ineffable and the unknowable. Both heart and soul are often in direct conflict with the mind. The intellect is about discourse, linear logic and analysis: tools that are useless in the sublime experience of art, music or the prolific beauty of nature.

Back to my very average lawn and the sunset.

Time slowed, a gentle peace filled me and I was grateful for everyone and everything in my life. No words, no photo, not anything could capture that moment. All I could was smile. Smile at everything.