Give Me Life

Give me life
Give me pain
Give me myself again
Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes, 1992

Tori Amos. Photo by Kevin Dooley. (cc) 2007 (Concert in Phoenix, AZ)
Tori Amos. Photo by Kevin Dooley. (cc) 2007 (Concert in Phoenix, AZ)

In January of 1992 when this album was released
I was graduating from college in Long Island
I walked into the woods there
Without any idea of where I was going
And I spoke to the trees

“My life to you” I said to the trees, the sky, the world
“There is no meaning without service to you”
“Until the end of my days, my life to you”

Without a few weeks I was packed up
Everything I owned in a car
Driving across the country
Listening to Simon and Garfunkle
“Me and Julio down by the school yard”
Singing to a plant that I had found
Discarded in the streets of New York
And had nursed back to health
Over 20 years later that plant Julio
Still sits quietly to one side of our living room
A still reminder of the days when I took my life in my hands
Got into a car and wandered westward with nothing but hope and song

As we come again into spring this year
Something big happened around me at work
The kind of thing that changes everything
That happens on a level that no single one of us can influence
Like the election that happened earlier in the year
Or the nuclear tests in North Korea
This time, I was reminded of that song “Little Earthquakes”
People showed up in my office, called, texted,
“What are we going to do? What will happen to us?”
It occurred to me that the events around us were like earthquakes
Shaking our work, our world, our place, everything
The whole world shaking
It doesn’t take much to turn us into pieces

I remembered that after the earthquakes
When the shaking is done
If we are still standing, life returns
To me, that is what this season is about
Life returns. The spring wakes up the trees bud, the flowers bloom
The air smells fresh and new
Life returns
Sometimes it returns with pain, sometimes it returns from pain
But it returns. It renews. We return.
And we get to choose again.
Give me life, give me pain, give me myself, again.

After this past winter, the season of earthquakes the world over
A startling election. Brexit. Nuclear testing. Threats.
We get to renew. We get to begin again.
We get to return. Even if the return carries pain
We get to be reborn with new fertility, new ideas

When the earthquake is done
We get to return to life

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