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Follow the Trail and Scatter Light

Man dreams one day to fly
A man takes a rocket ship into the sky
He lives on a star that’s dying in the night
And follows in the trail, the scatter of light
– U2, In A Little While

There are moments in an album or a book or an evening when you recognize the magic. Emotion wells up in you, stirring and amplifying feelings, sending you to another place. A higher place, maybe, or a darker place should the moment direct you that way. I keep climbing to higher places, hoping the view is better. Hoping I’ll become better in the process. And some of it ends up here in this blog.

U2 hit me a few times over with All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Opening with the hit, dropping in a mournful homage to Michael Hutchence and then the heart pounding Elevation. This was the U2 I’d missed in their experimental days of the late 90’s. These were songs that stuck with you. Ear worms if you will. And then they hit you with Walk On, which grabbed me by the throat waiting for a flight from LA to Boston. When Bono starts singing “Home, hard to know where it is if you’ve never had one” while sleepily waiting for a red eye flight home… well, I’ll never hear the song the same again.

For all that, the second half of the album is admittedly weaker. And for me, In A Little While became the unconscious end. For it was this song that got that emotion welling, that stirred and amplified those feelings. When Bono sings “Slow down my bleeding heart” I’m right with him, and I know it hit others the same way. That’s the power of a moment.

Bono stated at one of the concerts U2 recorded that Joey Ramone’s family told him In A Little While was the song that he listened to in hospice, which changed the song for Bono, the guy who wrote it, from a hung over dolt going home at the end of the night to something bigger. Something more meaningful. I never heard the song as anything but soul-stirring, which just goes to show, art might begin with the artist, but it becomes whatever the audience wants it to be.

I think about that as I write. About reaching moments of emotional connection in my writing. About crafting something of depth and substance, something that amplifies that nugget of desire or fear or love in your soul. Surely I’m a work in progress, but still climbing. Following the trail and scattering light. Still dreaming of flying.

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