I don’t think Elvis belongs in our new mythology…
…though some say he’s risen from the dead—they claim to have seen him at some fast-food outlet…
…and hordes of the faithful still make the pilgrimage to Graceland.
Yes, Elvis is now a legendary figure. But legend is not myth.
However, we do have one Elvis story that’s close to mythic—that confronts us with questions of loss, of death, of the unseen, of how to meet the challenges of life on this Earth.
It’s the story of a dream…
A dream Elvis supposedly shared with a confidante.
In the dream, Elvis finds himself on-stage, performing in a blue spotlight. Beside him stands his twin, Jesse Garon Presley. Jesse looks, acts, sounds, performs just like Elvis.
According to this confidante, Elvis often wondered why he’d been the one chosen to live. Why him and not Jesse—his stillborn twin brother?
Though I can’t peer into another man’s heart, I think I do understand a little something about survivor’s guilt. I can understand why someone would ask, “Why are they dead while I’m still alive?”
I don’t believe in chance—including chance death. I believe that when your time’s up, then you go…
However, this belief doesn’t always satisfy me emotionally. After all, emotion often doesn’t listen to reason. No matter what I tell myself, I still feel the loss, I still wonder why I’m the one left alive.
The loss seems even greater when I realize that it’s not just my loss, it’s our loss. When that person died, we lost the work they were doing, we lost the work they would have done, we lost what they would have given to this world if they‘d lived but a few years longer.
So how can I deal with these feelings of loss?
Well, I’ve decided to do as any good soldier does. I will attempt to compensate: to try to do a bit more, to take up a little of the slack left by this person’s passing, to contribute more to the welfare of all.
“Win one for The Gipper” may be the corniest line in movie history, but if it works, I’ll use it.
Instead of repeating affirmations to ask for stuff, perhaps I could write down some version of the above.
But I suppose there’s other ways to help me remember my lofty ambition. Often my mind drifts to those who’ve died, and when it does, I can recall this resolution and be spurred on.
Do the deceased sometimes hover about us? Did Elvis’ dream tell him that Jesse Garon remained in his life in spirit form?
Perhaps. Whatever the case may be, Jesse Garon was there, all through Elvis’ life…
…shadowing him just as those I’ve lost shadow me.
Such shadows may be heavy and dark. But I think Elvis has shown us a way to lift their weight. When I’m out there in the world, when I’m “performing”…
…I can imagine those people standing there with me—just as Jesse stood with Elvis. I can feel them there with me, working with me, urging me on.
It’s important to remember that Elvis wasn’t sad in the dream—he was elated to find his twin on-stage with him—happy to hear the crowd cheering them on.
In the dream, Elvis wasn’t feeling guilty; he had no cause to feel survivor’s guilt: after all, his brother was still there, still with him, in his every word and act.
I want to keep that idea in mind as I go about my day—not only to help ease my guilt, to help ease my sadness…
…but also to help me as I walk the path these people walked, as I work to continue their work…
…as I try to reach the potential they saw in me.
© 2012, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry