Reading from one of my favorite writers, mythologists and lecturers, Joseph Campbell, I remember:
“[Life] seems to have had an order, to have been composed by someone, and those events that were merely accidental when they happened turn out to be the main elements in a consistent plot. Who composed this plot? Just as your dreams are composed, so your whole life has been composed by the will within you. Just as the people who you met by chance became effective agents in the structuring of your life, so you have been the agent in the structuring of other lives. And the whole thing gears together like one big symphony, everything influencing and structuring everything else. It’s as though our lives were the dream of a single dreamer in which all of the dream characters are dreaming too. And so everything links to everything else moved out of the will in nature…It is as though there were an intention behind it yet it is all by chance. None of us lives the life that he had intended.”
Reading the Campbell quote seemed to connect to my thoughts this week when my siblings and I received a final draft of a tribute to my father Bob Gallagher. Of his many talents, Bob loved to bring out his baritone voice and sing. Nowhere did he enjoy doing so as when he started the “Boy’s Choir” in 1972 at St. John the Evangelist Church. Every Saturday night at the 5:15 p.m. mass, the “Boys” – adult men who enjoyed singing — walked up the stairs into the choir loft with cymbals, drums and their sheet music to add their own version of musical prayer to the mass. As Bob became ill, then wheelchair-bound, the choir carried on, electing a new director after he died nearly 20 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1993. Last year — 40 some years after the choir began, Ron DeLain, one of the original “Boys”, reached out to my sister Susie and I. It seemed the choir had reached its end and Ron wanted to create a memory of its existence. He asked for our help to remember the details, and edit the copy, of a tribute he put together to commemorate all those years of song.
It was also a tribute to Dad. Twenty some years after his death, they still remembered him and his earthly contributions. If only we could all be so lucky. But I wonder: was it the life Dad intended? Filled with family, business success, more than a few pranks and a great deal of laughter as well as the very real challenges of a debilitating illness that lead to his death at 65. So somber and sad. And still, someone from that inter-connected circle of his life remembered and found a way to keep his memory alive. Maybe it is as Joseph Campbell says, “one big symphony, everything influencing and structuring everything else.”
Thank you Ron DeLain.
- Ep. 6: Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth – ‘Masks of Eternity’ (Audio) (billmoyers.com)
- “It is by going… (thegodspark.wordpress.com)
- Let go of the life you have plannned (corporateskirts.wordpress.com)
- Download ‘Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth’ (Audio) (billmoyers.com)