Musing #5: Easy Does It
In the late 1990s, I twice traveled to India. I plead guilty to having fallen under a spell somewhat akin to that which seemingly captured the Beatles and others of that generation: I wanted to get beyond/beneath the material world in a way that seemed impossible through the means presented to me in my own country. It seemed like one could transcend to a higher plane just by setting foot in India.
One evening in India, while visiting the holy city of Varanasi, I was wandering around the ghats next to the Ganges: a sacred place where innumerable souls had been cremated through the centuries; a place beyond my petty comprehension and to be respected more for that. What a shock I experienced when I stumbled across a young Westerner, about my age, strumming the guitar and singing to (what I presumed to be) an impromptu gathering of Indians. Why the shock? Because he was singing Lionel Richie’s “Easy” (ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh, I’m easy like Sunday morning…) For me this was sacrilege. Lionel Richie!? Here!? How dare he befoul this place with such tripe?
(I mean, he could have at least sung the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” or “Within Without You”.)
I stormed away in disgust.
How to explain what happened after that?
Over the coming years I grew to love that song – cheese and all. Not only did I grow to love the song, it became one of those rare and precious songs that helps me experience some of that transcendence I’d been seeking in India.
I’m not trying to say that that young man in India was a guru-wolf in sheep’s clothing, but some kind of alchemy occurred within me: the mix of the song, the memory, and my reaction to it has turned that cheese into gold.
There’s definitely a lesson there. How to define it? The best I can come up with is: remember to stay as “easy as Sunday morning”.