The Eyes Of The Blind

negative_blind_eye

It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed  ~Romans 13:11

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To a river so deep
I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it’s too hard to cross

What are you searching for? Someone to love? A soul mate? A new career? A new place to live?

Or is your search much deeper than that? I know it is for me. It has taken me a long. long time to near the end of my search, but I’ve begun to at least see it now. Funny thing is that it has been right in front of me all along. My search is for meaning.

And even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I’ve been looking for

For us “baby boomers” maybe it’s just in the way we are wired. So self absorbed, so critically oblivious and materially motivated. I can remember clearly, when I was in my early 30’s, my mother saying to me when I was home for a visit, “Son, you know we’re proud for you and all you have accomplished, but you really need to stop and smell the roses.”

I heard her, but I didn’t really hear her. It’s taken me a long time to take her advice. And when I look, I can see the same thing all around me, in almost everyone I know.

And I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

And what was stolen can never be replaced. It can’t be repurchased. It can’t be replenished. And even if he wanted to, the thief who robbed me can’t give it back. That which was stolen is time. And like Jim Croce once sang, we can’t bottle it.

I don’t know why I go walking at night
But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I’ve been looking for

One of my favorite quotes is from Sister Mary Corita Kent: “Life is a succession of moments; to live each one is to succeed.”

Yes, the things we search for are right here in front of us, in each and every one of those moments.

I believe the greatest meaning and fulfillment we can find in life, is found within the human relationships we have and living fully in those moments we share with others.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the jungle of doubt
To a river so deep
I know I’m searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
By the eyes of the blind
In the middle of the night

It’s ironic that Billy Joel, son of a Holocaust survivor and an avowed atheist would write a song so deeply infused with Biblical references. He said as much himself: he got the idea for the song in one of his dreams – in the dream he was sleepwalking – and when he awoke he said to himself “Hey, who am I to try to pull off a gospel song?”. But he just couldn’t shake the feeling and found himself singing it over and over in the shower that morning.

I do think his lyric about something that could “only be seen by the eyes of the blind” is a bit of a atheistic stab at religious belief, but I would challenge him to say that he had no religious inspiration in the song. And might that mean that he was being a little spiritually guided, as well?

I’m not sure about a life after this
God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river
That runs to the promised land

I guess we all have our doubts and struggles with our faith and beliefs, no matter what they are, and I’m sure it’s the same for Billy. “The River Of Dreams” was the title song and first hit single off his last recorded studio album to date, 1993’s River Of Dreams. The album leaned strongly towards themes around love, trust, betrayal  and loss. Sure sounds like a man searching for meaning to me.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
By the river of dreams
In the middle of the night

A few interesting notes about Billy and the album include:

  • The album cover art was painted by his then wife, Christie Brinkley
  • Each of the subsequent singles from the album featured cover art that was a small section of the album cover painting.
  • Rolling Stone magazine gave it a “Top Pick” in their Best Album Cover of the Year awards in 1993
  • Joel said “river of dreams” was a play on the phrase “stream of consciousness”
  • Billy often toured with fellow pianist, Elton John, another strongly non-religious musical artist

While I may not agree with Billy’s lack of religious belief,  I do have to admire the God given talent behind it. “The River of Dreams” may have been one of his finest recordings in a career that includes over 150 million records sold worldwide, making him the #3 solo recoding artist all-time in the Unites States.

So, let’s roll up our pants legs and wander down to the river where we can hear a non-sermon from “an innocent man”. And while we’re at it, we can say a prayer for Billy, too.

Listen to the original studio version and video here:

Sources for this post include:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Joel

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_River_of_Dreams

Songfacts.com: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4600

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