Life and how to live it

Too often the last few years I’ve found myself dwelling on the crappy stuff in life — what with the terrible economy, financial mayhem and so forth. So perhaps the best thing I’ve done in a long time was taking that weekend jaunt up to Pelee, leaving all the crap behind and just being. No worries, no hurries. Just hang for a couple of days, get a sunburn and suffer the indignity of a few mosquito bites.

Ah, life and how to live it. That’s the name of an early R.E.M. tune, going waaaay back to the Fables of the Reconstruction. Or is it Reconstruction of the Fables? The album harkens back to the days of vinyl LPs, when artists took license with which side was the first side (A) or (1), One Side or Another Side. It’s a far different sounding R.E.M. from the height of their fame in the early ’90s with Automatic for the People and Out of Time, or their often anemic post-Bill Berry years (2008’s Accelerate stands out as a dramatic exception). The song features those jangly guitars that earned R.E.M. its early success, full of hope and wonder.

But I digress.

I guess the thing I’m trying to get at is sometimes when you’ve been bashing your head against a brick wall (metaphorically, we hope) the best thing to do is leave the wall alone. Go somewhere else, somewhere that’s a little more hospitable. With no bricks.

As tempting as it is, most of us can’t really take a permanent vacation. Responsibilities and all that. Mortgages to pay, mouths to feed, angry wives to appease. Whatever.

But just in case I lose sight of the good things in life, here’s a little reminder.

And if you wanted a refresher on that R.E.M. tune, here’s a blurry video of that tune:

An excerpt:

Raise the walls and shout its flaws, a carpenter should rest
So that when you tire of one side the other serves you best
Read about the wisdom lost, a knock, a knock, a knock
A secret knock one hammer’s locked the other wisdom lost

My carpenter’s out and running about, barking in the, listen to the holler
My pockets are out and running about
Barking in the street to tell what I have hidden there

Listen, listen to the holler,
If I write a book it will be called “Life and How to Live It”


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