Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kid Sparrow Loves

Last night we watched La Vie En Rose, a film about the life of Edith Piaf, in the Varsity Theater across from UNC. The Franklin Street theater is small, with an air of lots of use over years, though not stale. Upstairs leading to the restrooms are a few seats, a smart set-up with bright colors that say retro fresh. My friend had a lemon-mint ice cream combination that was a taste burst of sweet-fresh brighter than the theater itself. Seeing the film brought back memories of grad. School when my friend Tom and I would listen to Edith Piaf sing as we sat in his dark living room. Jacques Brel, old theater set pieces, were conjured up by some of these listenings, and the drama of them lingered in the air. “The Little Sparrow” had lung power and a voice that championed little girls, “little people,” common ground, the force of being alive – very early on, after many had heard her for the first time and were astonished and pleased, an artist admirer told her, You are an immense artist” (en Francais), and she answered, amid the New Year’s hubbub and laughter, “I’m wearing high heels.” Her face and gestures became so distinctively part of her presence that they seem sometimes exaggerated. Those stunning blue eyes seem both purely direct in their gaze and wide open as an ocean, to the vulnerabilities of life and all the winds that blow. What a presence, what a life, what a look, what a voice she had. Moments linger, such as when she first sang, at 9 years old when her father, a “contortionist” was trying to make money for them by twisting up his limbs for passers-by in the street, and the lingerers wondered what talent she had. Her father prodded her to act, so the audience wouldn’t leave, and she stepped up and opened her mouth to sing the French anthem with a sound and strength that brought slow smiles and claps from the gathering listeners. As they sat on a beach an interviewer asked her – what would you tell a woman, a child, any advice – Love, she answered. “Je ne regrette rien,” she sang, at the end.

At dinner we had been talking about choices, how and why we make the choices we make, what it means to use our mind as a sense, to live with our senses as the life force of love that we are designed for. “There but for the grace of choice go I,” my friend said, and we laughed at the depth of this thought rippling in the pond of our lives and lifetimes.

We scan for details of a personal nature when we want to know more. When I think of Edith Piaf and her life, as it is depicted, I scan with my mind as fingers the scenes and ripples I feel as I watch and think. Those hands she had to be encouraged to use, that voice which kept her alive. She shouted often, dismissive of many. Yet she loved deeply. Care was there in moments that stood out in that hard-scrabble early life, and the tragedies that followed. She was bent and sedated by the time she died (cancer), still young but also ancient. She was 48.

I have to sing at least one song, she said (or something like it), or I will forever lose faith in myself – this near her death-time, her collapsing, remembering her fondest career moments as every time the curtain rose. Think of it: An actress acting a part written for the “real woman,” characters chosen as the supporting cast, to represent that supporting entourage of hers, faithful friends. We accept these, moved to tears and more, so why do we question our reappearance on stage after stage, in life after life, with supporting casts of our own? A good moment appears when Edith dismisses an orchestra she had kept waiting, and a Radio official, distraught, says, You can’t do that! She plants her palms on her hips and says, Why not? What’s the point of being Edith Piaf if I can’t? It’s a good scene that sounds a resounding chord. We’re so accustomed to operating by rules and regulations as fact that we forget we created them, that they are not Nature’s laws. We choose what we do. The energy we are becomes part of our every environment, as our environment is what we create.

A friend told me she called another to ask him to come over and join their swimming – what? At 8:30am, this early? He said. Is there a rule about that?, she said to me. Her son remarked about not having to mow the lawn. We use this “competition” mode in every way. I see this better now. With every thought I use that way my energy adds to the bucking-horse energy, the bull-rider out of the gate at the rodeo, with the crowd watching and a stopwatch ready. I listen to remarks about ex-wives and husbands, another friend’s refusal to respond to her ex-husband because he is being judgemental or instructive. I understand her forceful defense of not wanting to be criticized. Not being told she is not doing something right, not good enough. Also, her impetus to want to “stand up for herself,” when she feels her own structures of life (marriage) have not held the weight she thought they did for her. When each thought is new, the world is fresh, and there is no stale air in our interactions. We are free to choose. Je ne regrette rien.

Love, Truth and Perception speaks to these changes that free us from these beliefs. “The emotions that we feel for ourself will always be our definition of the love that we feel for another.” (LTP, 175)

“The intellect and ego is judging itself in relationship to its ability to be loved by others. But being loved by another eases the sadness, pain, and longing only temporarily before our loss is again triggered by the soul and spirit mind saying, ‘ you still haven’t found me’ as our soul and spirit seeks to become one with the intellectual mind.” (LTP, 173)

“But we will forever seek to fulfill our unquenchable thirst for the beauty of love, because love is the hidden power of our life. “ (174)

Our knowing that love is essential to our life comes from our soul motivation, which keeps us searching.

“Our perception of love is accepted from the reflection of our self-image that is reflected back to us from the veil of the ego.” (174) We do not perceive that the love which we physically seek is in truth the love of ourself and our life. The vision that we see of ourself is what we will seek. If we see ourself as physical, we will seek physical love.

My reflection was an image of a “strong female,” i.e., equal to a male, a “male in a female body.” Because I did not see myself as a “strong female” - despite all evidence to the contrary, I did not believe there was such a "thing," and did not even know I believed it! What does it mean to be "strong," willful, free? What does it mean to find your own voice?

“For many individuals who have continued their unexplainable search for true love, there is no logical explanation within their mind to explain the motivation for their actions. They simply feel an overwhelming need to continue their search and they follow their sense of ‘need.’” (174) The external love that we seek is the physical symbol of our internal path as our intellect seeks to unite with the love of our spirit.

One reviewer of Le Vie En Rose wrote, "Piaf's will to live is inspiring even in the face of self-destruction that makes Judy Garland's own battles with alcohol and drugs seem minor in comparison." Marion Cotillard's performance is incredible. She was born in Paris, in 1975. She aged realistically in the film, in hours, through torment, triumph, and with power. Love, Edith said. We are all connected within our spirit consciousness and the spirit never fails to honor that love.

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