Friday, July 15, 2005

I'm going to go back there someday...

In my mind, one of the most beautiful and most meaningful songs that I've ever heard was originally sung by Gonzo the Great.

Perhaps it sounds ludicrous to attach such dignity and significance to a song from "The Muppet Movie" -- as such films are generally viewed as children's entertainment and, consequently, shallow or silly... But honestly, I almost want to cry whenever I hear the song, "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday." According to the story of the film, the song is extemporaneously composed by a desert campfire, in the wildlands somewhere east of Hollywood. A group of friends has been following dreams across the American continent, and they've almost made it to their destination. But as fate would have it, their vehicle breaks down and they are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Everything seems to be falling apart, and Kermit -- the group's de facto leader and visionary -- wanders off into the darkness by himself to ruminate...

In this moment of despair and desperation, Gonzo begins a simple melody -- accompaniment provided by his friends, Rowlf on harmonica and Fozzie on ukelele. He sings:

This looks familiar, vaguely familiar,
Almost unreal, yet, it's too soon to feel yet.
Close to my soul, and yet so far away.
I'm going to go back there someday.

Sun rises, night falls, sometimes the sky calls.
Is that a song there, and do I belong there?
I've never been there, but I know the way.
I'm going to go back there someday.

Come and go with me, it's more fun to share,
We'll both be completely at home in midair.
We're flyin', not walkin', on featherless wings.
We can hold onto love like invisible strings.

There's not a word yet for old friends who've just met.
Part heaven, part space, or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay.
I'm going to go back there someday.
I'm going to go back there someday.

I think the reason for these words and this melody capturing my emotions so powerfully is that I've experienced the exact same sentiments for my own life. In particular, I recall one time watching a sunset from the great sand dunes of Lake Michigan. It was in August of 2001, at the tail end of a camping trip with my Dad and my brothers. We had enjoyed a wonderful couple of days, hiking and relaxing together in the sun, sand, and surf of the Indiana Dunes State Park. But my heart was also heavy and anxious that weekend. Marci and I were contemplating some serious life changes. We had just visited Amsterdam for the first time a couple of months previously, and we were talking a lot about moving -- to Amsterdam, to Orlando, to re-establish ourselves in Bowling Green -- we didn't know... In addition, the day before our camping trip, Marci and I had learned the joyous-yet-overwhelming news of expectation for our first child... There were other matters clouding my mind at that point, too -- but in general, I was just overwhelmingly cognizant of the fact that my life was about to change profoundly and permanently.

The thoughts and anxieties were buried in the background for the majority of the weekend, as my brothers and I leaped from the tops of towering sand dunes, ate grubby charcoaly camping food, and quipped casually about favorite movies, memories, and miscellaneous moments of mirth... But then, when Dad and Alex left for the return trip to Ohio, Jay and I were left alone for one last evening in the Dunes. We hiked to the top of one of the more isolated, more magnificent dunes that we had seen previously in the weekend, and as the orange sun began to dip and drizzle beneath the great waters of Lake Michigan, we observed a time of silence and stillness.

In that moment, all of my fears, insecurities, and worries flashed before me. I was reminded of all the stirrings and transformations afoot. I was reminded of the profundity, permanence, and peril of the changes ahead. Watching the seascape before me, I felt the sun was setting on an era of my existence -- prompting a strange mix of excitement, anxiety, and sadness. And in that moment, I felt the voice of God whisper to my inner soul.

I felt a confirmation that the coming years were indeed to be tumultuous and difficult times, and I was given no indication of how long or how severe this period of unrest would be. But in that instance, I was also given an indescribable sense of peace. The beauty and majesty of the sunset before me illuminated a moment of pure rest. Never before and never since have I felt as calm, content, and comfortable as I did sitting on the top of that dune with my brother, watching the sun slowly sink out of sight. It was like I briefly discovered a new way of breathing and being. I was caught up in the goodness of the Creator and his undeniable hand in my life. And, to perfect the moment, I felt God soothing my soul in such a way to communicate the truth that I now know: "I'm going to go back there someday."

So now, whenever I hear or think about Gonzo's ballad in the desert, I remember my sunset observed from the dunes over Lake Michigan. I remember that I'm going to go back there someday. I don't know when and I don't know how. I honestly can't say if my return will be to that actual geographic location, or to sit quietly with my brother again, or to watch a simple sunset, or to simply feel that peaceful sense of breathing and being again... But I instinctively harmonize with Gonzo: I'm going to go back there someday.


At 11:16 PM, Blogger Crystal said...

That's so interesting, I live on the North Shore of Lake Michigan, and I typically camp a couple times each summer at the State Parks in Michigan (Warren Dunes S.P). Is great to know that someone as far away as Holland appreciates the American Midwest.

At 3:41 AM, Blogger Monica said...

I was looking up this song and this is one of my favorite songs that make me cry, I think it is the saddest song I ever heard and was wondering if anyone ever did a remake of it, I think it was written by Paul Williams, sniff, I am so glad that it means so much to you and you have good memories of it :) :)


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