Saturday 12 November 2022

Thought Picnic: In the rivers of black identity

The river as it flows

I was invited to listen to Leon Bridges River; which also appears in HBO’s Big Little Lies original TV soundtrack, with the thought that the song was a significantly meaningful reflection for the black race, but there was a pause as that statement was made with the feeling that across the pond and history, things might not necessarily have the same import that they thought it should.

Attentively, I listened and tried to grasp the essence of it, I felt obligated to see things from their perspective as the lyrics though unseen but heard clearly did speak but did not catch on. In all honesty, it was best not to feign pretence as we were exploring the deeper issues of black identity. It hadn’t heard of Leon Bridges before.

River does evoke much about history and redemption, but in the words of the refrain, “Take me to your river, I wanna go”, the river was a place of routine, where you bathed, fetched water, washed clothes, and had fun, it did not carry any form of sacredness associated with cleansing and baptism as my interlocutor surmised. [Genius Lyrics: Leon Bridges River]

The river somewhere different

I felt that as there was no restriction to go to the river that flowed by the village, its great value might have been lost in its apparent familiarity. At my first hearing, meaningful as the song might well be, it would take more listening to it to have the deeper understanding being asked for at that time.

Later, I thought about where the river could mean just as much to me, it involved a different qualification in The Holy River by Prince, from the Emancipation album; there he sang, “Let’s go down to the holy river, If we drown we would be delivered,” that alone in its introduction was taking me to a special and sacred place of discovery and miracles. I was taken from the time I originally heard the song. [Lyrics from The Holy River]

Blog - Thought Picnic: Find your holy river in which to drown

This river was not a place of fun but a grotto of sorts, it was filled with a different kind of symbolism and mysticism, a place your approached with some dread and yet the anticipation that if everything seemed to go wrong, it would come out right regardless.

The subconscious of eternal existence

I found myself thinking of enclosures and openings, why I am totally averse to wearing anything like ankle chains, and then finger rings or neck chains. I wear a bangle of betrothal, but it is open-ended. I could give a reason, but I felt a profundity in the fact that the time we spend on earth is but a subset of the eternity of our existence.

We are in genetic and ethereal terms the result of an ancestry that doubles up each further generator of our origin that goes back from two parents to four grandparents, to eight great-grandparents, to sixteen great-great-grandparents and so on. If we do procreation, we begin a new chain that is a subset of our progeny.

It had me wondering where a tendency to fussiness or aversion comes from without influence or education, quirks and traits that attend to similarities with people we have never encountered but are strong in our personalities that some might even be inclined to the belief in reincarnation. I do not assume to suggest that I am competent in any form of existential philosophy, I would consider myself a total novice.

However, what I came away with was once again how so diverse and divergent the cultural and historical identities of the black race are, where the search for one's roots is a journey of discovery and the acceptance of self with being comfortable in one’s skin is a process of continuous learning involving complementation and jettison in various measures that we evolve and restate who we are depending on where we are.

I guess there is more to meditate on.

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