Out on a walk this week, I listened to an episode of “One Song,” a podcast in which a pair of producers analyze a single from the pop music canon. Diallo Riddle and Blake “Luxxury” Robin possess a wealth of knowledge and great appreciation for their subject. Their love of music is infectious, so the show is engaging and inspiring as well as informative. The episode to which I listened was about The Beatles “Come Together.”
They cover familiar territory talking about the remarkable synergy of The Beatles collaboration, a whole even greater than the sum of its already great parts. They dissect some of the song’s creepy-funky imagery — ju-ju eyeball, spinal cracker, feel his disease. They discuss the arrangement, and the fact that the melody and opening lyric were stolen from Chuck Berry’s 1956 single, “You Can’t Catch Me.”
I didn’t know that the title came directly from Timothy Leary’s California gubernatorial campaign. Leary was running against incumbent Ronald Reagan and had asked John Lennon to write a song to go with his slogan, “Come Together: Join the Party.” I don’t think their relationship went any further than that initial conversation, and the campaign didn’t go very far either, but that phrase certainly stuck.
I was struck by the way that so many seemingly disparate and disconnected elements coalesced to make this song — a song still resonant, provocative, and sexy 54 years later, both in its original version and as covered by hundreds or thousands of other artists.
As I considered, I realized that every work, everything we create, is the same sort of miracle. Every song, every photograph, every craft, every relationship, every piece of art and soul is a synthesis plucked from the etheric infinitude. Out of everything: this.
Someone’s riff gets stuck in another person’s head — she shares it with a colleague or partner — maybe a frenemy or rival catches wind and chimes in with a contrasting idea… And pretty soon, everyone’s life circumstances and lived experiences are part of the mix. You don’t have to look very far before it includes, literally, EVERYONE’S — the whole world’s, past, present, and future.
Life is this constant creative collaboration of mind-blowing complexity and connectedness. Groovy.
Coming together is in itself a fairly basic idea. We do it all the time for particular purposes — to make and destroy, to fall in love and engage in battle, to solve problems and think up new ones.
What’s especially interesting to me is the dynamic creativity of coming together not just in agreement but also in disagreement, not just unison but also harmony and even discord.
Of course it’s wonderful and affirming to gather in affinity, uniting around shared ideas and common intentions. But at the same time, there are a gazillion other ways that we’re connecting through our deep differences and at cross-purposes. I think, oftentimes, this is where the real magic happens.
For me the whole point of spiritual community (any sort of community) is community — coming together. Whatever we’re studying or fixing or working on is fine, let’s do it. But it’s always secondary to the true marvel of our togetherness. What’s available together, no matter what we’re up to, is an entire blooming universe of creative possibility as well as the full flowering of our individual self-expression.
In the 13th century, an anonymous monk wrote that God is “an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Since then, a lot of folks have adapted the idea as a definition of Nature, of Self, of the Universe.
Interestingly, modern science has shown that the Universe is indeed multi-centered — that each galaxy cluster of stars is its own center out of which the rest of the universe radiates.
We might note the same thing about the natural world on earth, our interconnected ecosystem, in which everything is “hitched to everything else,” as John Muir said.
And the same is equally true of our consciousnesses — from our own vantage, where each of us stands, the rest of it all expands out from here.
It gets fun when we begin to recognize that we can exercise tremendous creativity — as centers of our own conscious universe — intentionally drawing connections on purpose. From everything, we connect the dots. With an infinite number of dots to connect, we choose the conclusions to draw, the meaning to infer, the synergies to emphasize. We define, to a great degree, how togetherness comes.
I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, December 10, 10:00am at Maple Street Dance Space. I’m excited that Sonia Montgomery will be our special musical guest. Happy Hanukkah, Loved Ones.