A cliffside life on a windy day…

Some folks seem to have bumpier roads to travel than other folks, for no obvious reason. It would be so nice to believe there is a relationship between Effort and Outcome– that it is linear, clear, understandable, even controllable. That has not been my experience though.

For many weeks now I’ve been trudging through yet another health struggle, flu followed by severe respiratory difficulty and exhaustion. At times I have lost heart, and have been so frustrated; I wanted to chuck a crystal wine glass into the fireplace. If only I had a crystal wine glass. Or a fireplace.

Then this song drifted into my heart. Unbidden, and fully welcome.

My dear friend Scott Alarik wrote a song many years ago called May They Be Blessed. At the time he wrote it we were intimate friends, and he said I was the first to hear it as he played it for me in the living room.

I remember the long silence between us when he finished.

“What do you think?” he said.

“I’m stunned,” I replied.

“By what, what part?”

“The surprise ending.”

It was Scott’s turn to look confused.

“What do you mean, what surprise?”

His life had been so tumultuous in those years of the late 1970s and early 1980s, as a struggling singer-songwriter who had worked endless hours, traveled thousands of miles each year, had done gigs on stages as big as Prairie Home Companion, followed by playing in a noisy smoky bar for tips the next night. Rarely feeling like he was making any progress, yet utterly unwilling to give up. He was so good at persevering, so determined, even when battle-weary.

It never dawned on me that he could allow himself to dream of a life any different than that. The first half of the song describes The Way Life Is: winds blowing mercilessly, hearts torn asunder, the only choice being between lurching steps or none at all.

But toward the end of the song, I heard him speak from a quieter place, outside the storm, looking back at it. That is what surprised me. His viewpoint.

I explained all that to him at the time, and he smiled. “Oh sweets,” he said, “You have been with me through some rough times, haven’t you?” Yes, I had.

That song still brings me to tears because of its relentless faith, all the while knowing that Life Can Be Very, Very Hard.

I had started another blog post, about our need to define “Enough,” especially in times of illness and stress and scarcity. Then this song came to me, out of nowhere. Maybe a telegram from Scott, who passed away suddenly last December first. His death shook the folk music community across America and beyond. Scott’s niche as a troubadour took the back seat years ago to his starring role as a writer, historian, journalist, and activist. His life most certainly blessed us all.

My next post will be a continued look at this notion of “Enough.” For now, here’s Scott’s recording, and the lyrics, so you can read along. Enjoy, especially if, for this moment, your house feels like a cliffside view on a windy day.

Here is the song’s recording: May They Be Blessed – Scott Alarik

Some people’s houses are on good firm ground
Where tall and sheltering trees stand
They are safe in their homes — their roots are well known
They can welcome the winds as they blow.

But some people go to the edge of those woods
Where the dark and the wild things grow
And their lives blow like leaves — in more dangerous winds
For reasons they may never know.

May they be blessed who live in those winds
whether in them their lives rise or fall
For their danger teaches us much of love
And their fear graces us all.

Some people walk in small clean steps
every movement is carefully planned
They may never see all their heart longs to see
But they will always be sure where they stand.

Oh but some people move with a lurching step
Always reaching for much too much
They may never find what their heart needs to find
Always reaching beyond what they can touch.

May they be blessed who run through this life
When it would be so much wiser to crawl
For their passion teaches us much of love
And their fear graces us all.

Now some people love with a measuring heart
Always balancing chances with gains
They will love safely or love not at all
And they will have no time for their pain.

Oh but some people love with a reckless heart
Never bargaining pleasures or cost
And they often burn in the heat of their own flame
And when they lose it is much that they have lost.

May they be blessed whose hearts are this way
Who will love fiercely or love not at all
For their loneliness teaches us much of love
And their fear graces us all.

I hope that I live in a good strong house
That I walk down clear roads sure but slow
I hope those I love might be those who love me
That I’m not lost where the wild things grow.

But let me never forget those whose lives burn too brightly
for reasons they may never know
May I not stand too long in dangerous winds
But let me never forget how they can blow.

May they be blessed who live in those winds
whether in them their lives rise or fall
For their danger teaches us much of love
And their fear graces us all,

…and their fear graces us all.

© 1986 Scott Alarik

And here’s a bit about Scott: https://www.scottalarik.com/bio


As always, feel free to forward this post to anyone you think might enjoy it.

Questions? Comments? Public comments can be posted below.

Private questions or comments will reach me by using the Contact link here.

The Very Important Tip Jar is available here if you enjoyed this post. It helps greatly to defray some of this website’s expenses.

Finally, thanks so much for spending some “aloft” time with me.

About Bobbie Herron

I live surrounded by watercolor brushes and paints, fountain pens, sketchbooks, and journals- often wanting more than anything to write and paint at the same time. If you like what you're reading, feel free to share it with others. If you see something that needs correction, please let me know. Thanks for visiting!
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