Thursday, November 12, 2009

The world is what you make it

Paul Brady has rapidly graying red curly hair pale skin with freckles and pronounced jowls; he is also an Irish folk singer. This man wrote a song that changed my life, here is the story. . .

I just I stepped out of the foyer at the answering service (one of my 3 jobs) into the dark winter morning, the slush sloshed into my shoes and the snow squeaked as I walked across the parking lot to my car. Ah my car, a white 1977 Granada, it had served me well, I had lived in that car for a few weeks the previous spring. It was a cranky old man of a car in its twilight years. Something had happened to the engine that required me to hop out at lights and put a clothes pin on the butterfly valve so that it wouldn’t stall out and as an added bonus occasionally flames would shoot out of the carburetor and it would backfire. I became an expert at timing lights which was a good thing because the brake lights were out. With a loud shriek of metal the dented driver side door opened and a mountain of snow fell down on me from the roof. With a pair of sweat socks on my hands in lieu of mittens I began the process of brooming snow off the car. The snow wasn’t all bad because it piled up around the license plate and hid the fact that the registration was expired. I slid behind the whore red wheel (the interior was entirely a deep red). I turned the key and a startled flock of pigeons took to wing when pre dawn silence was broken with a snarl and a giant roar, the muffler had a hole in it. I began the process of scraping the inside of the windows (the heater was sporadic at best) and waiting for the engine to warm up.
I was finally going to get to sleep, if I could just make it home. I had the next 12 hours off and was running on 6 hours of sleep from 36 hours ago. I just had to make it through the rich suburb of Birmingham to get to the highway then to my house in Oak Park. This trek was complicated by the fact that my car was, shall we say, not a desirable vehicle to pass through the toney Birmingham neighborhood and the cops extended the love. I was also driving on a suspended license because the afore mentioned cops caught me with my tabs expired and of course I couldn't’t afford to get the insurance and plates and pay the ticket.
I roared out onto the road, stomach clenched and quaking. I had recently left the warm bosom of a quasi commune I was living on and I felt lonely, empty and nothing felt right since I left. I was feeling lost and miserable like my life was just a pathetic run on a half frozen treadmill helpless and trapped in my poverty inherited from my family. To distract myself from my anxiety and the roar of the holey muffler I turned on the radio (at least that worked well). As I was coasting along a song came on the and somehow the jumpin’ guitar and classical references pierced my cocoon of helpless misery and I really heard the lyrics. . .

I knew this African called Hannibal

Rock it roll it send it down the avenue

Went out to see the Roman Empire fall Uh huh? uh huh?

Two thousand elephants in gold chain-mail

Take it, shake it, make it what you wanna be

Them Roman legionnaires they hit the trail Uh huh?

The world is what you make it The world is what you make it

When Cleopatra ruled in Egypt's land

Jump down, turn around, look at what the monkey did

She went to find herself a mighty man Uh huh? uh huh?

In come Antonio from Italy

Haul it, ball it, drag it up the pyramid,

He never knew how hot a girl could be Uh huh?

The world is what you make it

The world is what you make it baby

The world is what you make it

Don't start to hit me with your "no can do

" Bluesin', losin', workin' up an attitude

Clean up them windows let the sun shine through Uh huh? uh huh?

There ain't no happy time without no pain

heartbreak, new date, move on up the alleyway

Pick up them pieces hit the road again Uh huh?

The world is what you make it

The world is what you make it baby

The world is what you make it

Copyright Hornall Brothers Music

At that moment, I had an epiphany, the world IS what I make it, I don’t have to be this miserable, impoverished, sad heap, I can make my world what I want it to be. Hell, if Hannibal can take frickin’ elephants over the alps what is a little poverty and sadness compared to that feat.

It was a turning point. That very day I changed my mind and changed my life.


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