Elvis Presley and Rufus revealed to me something magnificent last week.
If you can spare 3 full minutes to listen to this with your eyes closed, the rest of this post might have more meaning:
I was in the Hammersmith branch of ‘Tiger’, seeing to some functional gift buying (and it doesn’t get much more functional than prevaricating over decorative paper napkins in an urban mall shop in February)…
…when Elvis came piping in over the store sound-system, with non-functional things on his mind.
‘FFS,’ I thought crassly but accurately, in an expressive sense. ‘I spend 90% of my life trying to side-step the yawning chasm of my existential angst and now I can’t buy a bloody napkin without being pushed in.’
Back home, mission accomplished, I returned voluntarily to hand-wringing and put Elvis on the Youtube duke box.
As I revisited cavernous rooms of rank sentimentalism, I came to realise that Rufus had stopped re-purposing a tissue box as a receptacle for matchbox toys in order to listen to the ‘mugats’ and was being held quite in its thrall.
Moments later, reaching up, he said, ‘Ugg’ (a request for an embrace, not an outdoor slipper boot); I happily complied and we sort of square-danced around the study to The King.
Lo and behold, ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ was no longer the background to the ‘stories’ of my life- the soundtrack to my emotional movie.
It was the song as Rufus was hearing it, in his childish way: pure; beautiful; without narrative. It was moving him to soft kisses which, for a child, is Love.
So I listened to it one more time- without the noise of my histories, my projections, my over-packed hormonal baggage- as if Elvis was just singing it, rather than singing it with the express intention of messing with my equilibrium.
Try it. It’s amazing. It’s a liberation.
Now imagine doing this with every thing.
Imagine engaging with your day in a way that minimizes major themes and maximizes minute experiences as they are unfolding; imagine frying an egg for breakfast and not shell-covered disillusionment; imagine eating lunch without the memory of your mistakes or the judgment of your fear; imagine receiving, not creating people; imagine creating yourself in the act of being.
Imagine loving Elvis for Elvis.
It may not work all the time.
But when it did, you’d be humming a Louis Armstrong song instead.