Coldplay's Chris Martin, at age 28, poured his ancient soul into the song Fix You. I first paid attention to Fix You, though, when I heard it sung by the octogenarian chorus featured in the film Young@Heart. The Octo-Group's performance was led by Fred Knittle, who suffers from congestive heart failure and breathes via an oxygen tank. The performance was originally planned to be a duet between Knittle and Bob Salvini, another chorus member, but Salvini died shortly before the show. Knittle performed it as a solo, as a tribute to his friend, and it shows, making the performance transcendent, a perfect melding of lyric, music, loss, redemption, and memory.
Tonight I'm thinking of how so many of us have lived each word of this song. That Chris Martin composed this when 28 astounds me - I expect that the young have not lived enough to pull such music from their souls, to have earned such lyrics. Yet, Martin's Fix You belies that.
Fix You. I've been the fixer but more often, I believe, the recipient of the kind and patient fixing of others. Like walking a labyrinth I've traveled a circular path, from fix to fix, from fixing to being fixed. So very often my "fixing" proved no fixing at all, it was sometimes inept or inapt. My attempted fixings were so many times, instead, an undoing; filtered first through my own needful ego, I had inaccurate or immature perceptions of another's needs. At times I've tried to fix in order to delay an inevitable, to head off a change in me, to hide behind the fixing, to salve my conscience, to obscure, to confuse.
So often "stuck in reverse" . . . Lately, I've fallen as far as I'd ever believed possible, and have been fixed by so many loving family and friends, particularly my wife, Sue, who right now sleeps soundly beside me. How could they support me? Fix me? When you fall, I've learned, you find out who rallies to you - we've all heard that before, nothing new there. But I've also learned why they rally. And that has fixed me . . . and I will never forget those who took tools in hand and rebuilt me.
Yet, in this time when I've collapsed entire cities with my own earthquakes of missteps, I've also lost someone I truly cannot replace. Lost, not through death, but by a rift that appears irreparable, a chasm unbridgeable. Like the song, I want to fix it. But I want to be fixed too. And I want to rage about it, and simultaneously tell anyone who will listen that it doesn't really matter. But, at night, I think of this loss, and work it, like clay, over and over, but in the end I have only a handful of misshapen memories. Say what you will about Hemingway, but he understood the hardball rules of living: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." I await the "afterward" . . .
Fixing, being fixed, defines most of our lives. Lurching often from wound to wound, inflicting and inflicted upon, we heal and are healed. Our true measure is in the fixing that we do that is truly for another, and not for ourselves. I found some lines from Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot:
For each one who begins to weep,
somewhere else another stops."
Fixing. Being fixed. And Beckett continues, "The same is true of the laugh."