“Expecting to Fly”

“Skylar had always been acutely sensitive to feelings: his own and those of others. The rite of passage marked by college graduation acted to distil and galvanize his emotions, which had the widest possible range, extending up celestially to that of a sopranino and down infernally to that of a basso profondo. “Expecting to Fly” acted, as music often did, like a trigger for the release of emotions so powerful that they shook his soul at its core. Neil Young could capture, in a few guitar chords and several odd wistful phrases of voice, the pure poignancy of human pain. From the first notes of the song, Young had carried Skylar straight into the heart of loss, into the blackness of finality, into the very moment when the mirror of love shatters into a dozen jagged pieces, able only to cut and bleed. “There you stood on the edge of your feather / Expecting to fly”: Skylar never could decipher that image; it brought to mind a fairy standing, arms spread like a high diver, on a magical bush whose leaves were actually peacock feathers, about to test her wings like a newly fledged bird. But Skylar now understood that successful art comes from a place where logic can often be disregarded without ill consequence. Who cared whether the singer’s lover (who was about to fly off) could really stand on a feather, because “While I laughed, / I wondered whether / I could wave goodbye.” The emotional problem had been set in two lyrical lines. They worked on Skylar like tumblers falling into place on a vault’s door. The early notes and words opened wide his heart-vault. “By the summer it was healing, / We had said goodbye. / All the years we’d spent with feeling / Ended with a cry, / Babe, ended with a cry, / Babe, ended with a cry.” Into a single word, “babe,” the composer compressed all the anguish, guilt, and tenderness, all the recollections of wasted opportunity, the memories of screaming fights and passionate reunions, the shoulders of consolation and fingers of recrimination, the jealousies, lusts, and shared joys of those who have deeply loved. Young succeeded so well in his effort that Skylar experienced the torment of the singer’s loss, even though he himself had never known it (for he had spent too little time with Helen Orogild to call his feelings for her “love”). In the intonation of and musical background for the word “babe,” he felt what it must be like to have the delicate but deep-rooted fibers of a lover’s heart, which have woven themselves into one’s own, forcibly wrenched from it, leaving behind a scarified, torn, bloody, and only half-living organ.”

Richard Maddox

Richard Dietrich Maddox's writing focuses on the search for permanent happiness, the goal of finding paradise on earth, the attainment of human Enlightenment. His work, though fiction, attempts to convey the profound spiritual Truth passed on to humanity by Enlightened Masters. Maddox approaches spiritual wisdom from a Western level of experience, presenting characters to whom readers can easily relate, offering situations in which readers might well have found themselves. His work offers, in a style which those living in the West will find understandable, the possibility of blissful existence.

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