Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye
(Robert Louis Stevenson)
by Chris McNaught
Boomers, Gen X, Gen Z, Gen-duh — enough birth-tagged consignment of each new bundle of joy to the human race! We’ve been too deaf, too long. Climate and pandemic, martial chest-beating, cowardly humanitarian myopia, pernicious racism and partisan blindness, all imprison our better angels — free them! Whatever your age, we all need to pole together on our raft-down-time.
Please stay on board with the metaphor. Life’s a one-way voyage, unalterably running with the current, the Grand Destiny not in our hands, but the passage in many ways ours to (mis)manage. Ultimately, our personal bow-wave collapses on the Far Shore; whether it sparkles brightly on the sand or gets tossed up as soggy flotsam is our minimal, but significant, choice. Upscaling the metaphor, we can choose to embark on Masefield’s “dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smokestack,” or book passage on a “stately Spanish galleon!”
But stow the heavy allusions and come over to the leeward. Listen. Listen, free of political charlatans, wannabes and cell-phone necrosis: our raft is buoyed by sanguine, seraphic music –music? In the early 60s, western society hopped and bopped to rock’n’ romance, which fell prey to facile slotting of its ‘era’, was blanched by the bland 70s, then lost in the vague 80s and nowhere 90s. Now those doo-wop days are shelved in internet caves and old folks’ cable channels – they beg resurrection!
Hear me ‘holler’ (Tom Sawyer’s on board of course) joyously: revisit those eternally innocent, infectious (non-pandemic!) surprisingly layered harmonies. Sing your heart out into the wind. Let the ‘angels listen in’ as we dance with the grace of our youth under the bow torch. May it never be snuffed!
Bop-bop, shingaling-aling, bop…
Chris McNaught is a Glebe author and former criminal lawyer and university lecturer. His most recent novel is Dùn Phris, A Gathering, Pegasus/Vanguard Press, UK, 2020.