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Mt Lebanon Magazine

The official magazine of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Talk in Present Tenses

Last week the sports world was rocked when Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter.  As with any story that has to do with death, especially the death of someone so young, there is talk of how short life is, being grateful for what you have, living every day to its fullest, showing love for those around you. All good. But why do we only recognize the importance of this during a tragedy?

We go through our days rushing, expectant, attached to things like our phones, our hair, our jobs, our homes, our ideations about how our lives “should” be. Sure, we recognize our family as important, but are we really present?

The other morning as I was getting ready for work I passed our fruit bowl, brimming with oranges. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my musical idol, Joni Mitchell, and her Chelsea Morning. Thanks to the magic of Spotify, I was able to immediately listen to it, and I heard it differently this time, thanks to Kobe. There’s never been a better song written about gratitude than this.

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the words
It came ringing up like Christmas bells and wrapping up like pipes and drums

Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
And we’ll wear it ’till the night comes

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon

Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
There’s a sun show every second

Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today
And the streets are paved with passersby
And pigeons fly
And papers lie
Waiting to blow away

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses
Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
And we’ll talk in present tenses…

We’ll talk in present tenses. Of all of this amazing lyricism, this is my favorite line. Because joy and gratitude comes from being present. Recognizing what’s here right now, be it the song of traffic, the colors sunshine throws on a wall, or a simple bowl of oranges. And especially being present with one you love. It’s seeing beauty everywhere, where there’s a sun show every second.

I imagine that when she wrote this song, her place in Chelsea wasn’t a mansion with the finest curtains, and her breakfast wasn’t a feast, but a simple one of milk and toast. But it was all still beautiful.

Perhaps Joni suffered some tragedies along the way that made her awareness of the little things more pronounced (it is said she moved to Chelsea after splitting with her husband, Chuck Mitchell). I don’t know. Or perhaps she was just in tune with the beauty of the world as an artist.

All I know is that the next time I’m feeling like I need a reminder, I plan to tell Alexa to play “Chelsea Morning” and I will think of Kobe. And I will remember how incredibly beautiful and miraculous the “little things” really are. Every day.


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  2. Author’s gravatar

    Bev….This was so Beautifully Written ……My Whole Family is So Very Proud of You….

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