Amber in Paris #4 How to Have a Good Time in a World that's Having a Bad Time

how to have a good time in a world that’s having a bad time p1

so i’m sitting here in this apartment, with a glass of wine, my phone linked to the speakers, beautiful housemate david in up the corridor getting his sore body soft and calm again in the bath, listening to beautifully produced music all about love and love lost and hope, and i’m thinking about this thing i’ve been thinking about lots “how do you have a good time in a world that’s having a bad time?”

i was lying on a couch a few days ago, reading a book by a photographer sebastião salgado. he went to rwanda, saw people’s bodies floating down the river, bodies upon bodies. saw them bulldozed into shared graves. but the first chapter of the book tells the story of him on the galapagos islands, making friends with a tortoise. he spent the whole day getting close to this tortoise by crouching down and becoming, as much as possible for a spanish photographer, a tortoise. after rwanda, after the bodies in the river, he didn’t take photos for a very long time. it was all over for him, for a while.

i’ve never read a whole novel in french, not even when i studied french at university, but something has happened where now i can understand more. so i bought one book to read. and it’s a book about the rwandan genocide. many years ago, just at the time i started to make music too, i met a beautiful girl called sheryn. when she was 18 for some reason she went to rwanda, and then went back there again and again. even her boyfriend came one time and proposed to her up on a mountain there.

one time we drove somewhere in the car and sheryn told me, tears flowing all the time, about what happened in rwanda in 1994. see, one day the country woke up and a big madness had come and suddenly one group of people hated the other group, and they picked up machetes, guns and grenades and set about killing every single person in the other group. it was a long time coming, and it had also happened before. there was a story of colonial powers coming and messing with the ethnic relationships, all the things you need to make madness, but then some of the story is outside anyone’s understanding. sheryn told me the story as told to her by people who had actually held machetes or who had escaped from machetes.

so, “how do you have a good time in a world that’s having a bad time?” in the novel i bought, the woman’s brother pours flour into her hand as a prophecy and tells her that all her family will be gone, even him, even her children, even her husband, but she won’t be taken because death doesn’t want her. and in fact, that’s exactly what happens.

so after this, how do you take pleasure in taking a photo of a tortoise? or listening to a friend’s album?

so, anyway, this is the thing i’ve been thinking about at the moment. about each of us having a path to follow. we don’t know what will happon, tomorrow there could be war, our parents or we could be killed by machete, or bomb, but until that day we can follow the right feelings that come about sending out love. sending love inwards and outwards. like, real love. ‘sending’ as in doing something that prevents people taking machetes into their hands. it doesn’t help to feel bad to sit here with a glass of wine and listen to a friend’s record. it’s good to feel good. and then if you get the call to go down the road and bring food to people who live in tents by the river, you can do it. and if you keep practicing this way of ‘doing it’, sending love, feeling good, one day when you get the call to completely change your life, go to a far off land, never fly again, study permaculture, go into federal politics, you can do it.

hmm. i was in the street with my friend, us both feeling sorry for ourselves because of mistakes of us and friends, but then there was a tiny seed with wings on the pavement. my friend picked it up, threw it in the air and its wings spun so fast, making it float to a nice new place to land. and, it’s just fine to take pleasure in this, and then when the time comes to stand between your friend and a machete, even if that’s the end, to do that too.