Earth, Wind and Fire put out a wonderful song called “After the Love Has Gone.” This is my favorite EWF piece and on listening to it this morning there was a sense that this might be a thinking theme song for putting Chicago together and making it a truly world-class city.

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The United Nations of Terminal 3. O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago area, Illinois, Photograph by Divi Logan.

The words to this profound song have many levels of meaning. For some they might shed light on a relationship that needs repair, that has lost its respectful facets, its innocence, its marvels and its energy. The pair might have been split over politics, over work, over school difficulties or some other difference that seems insurmountable.

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Chicago Skyline Shadows 1. From Hancock Center’s 95th Floor. Photograph by Divi Logan.

The citizens of Chicago are in such a relationship right now. A major factor is the big stupid idea that we are divided into “sides” and that it sounds so high and mighty and wonderful when someone mentions in trying to categorize people or places the “north side” or the “south side” or the “west side” and usually the comments are not positive. The reason for the negatives is somewhat due to the Census Bureau and its schedules of surveying the country under the guise that controlling the uncontrollable is acceptable. But we have come to accept these rules as necessary and positive because our nation’s officials have a guilty conscience and want to “make up” for history’s mistakes.

We cannot stop reliving the negatives and the losses and the guilt until we emerge from the shadows, the darkness, the trauma and pain and the sense of heaviness and see that there is progress to make, lots of work to do, and plenty of energy – positive energy –  to go around, to learn from and with, and to share abundantly.

The symbolism of the words to “After the Love Has Gone” may begin speaking to one’s fragmented childhood or adult life that did not grow much out of the early socialization stages (in the Loevinger scale the stages 4 or backwards), or the sense of something lost and in a mental fog. It is a sense that the feeling or the thought is “there” but you cannot see it cleanly, just a vague set of lines and a broken pathway. There was a time when youth was free and clean and loving and fresh. We were like stars being born, expanding our horizons, getting out there, asking questions and trusting the guidance we received, and learning how to wisely use the time and information we were given.

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Villa View. Seascape Resort, Aptos, California area. Photograph by Divi Logan.

Then something happened – we “grew up”. We wanted so badly as kids to grow up that we raided mom’s and dad’s closets and dressers and attempted to put on their clothes and walk around in shoes too large and ties that hung to the floor. We tripped, we stumbled, but we continued playing dress-up and house and getting a sense of what that meant. Still, there was that something that happened along the path to adult life that caused us to shed the caring and loving freedom and purity that we were born with and tried to cultivate in the sparkling garden of learning about life. We went to school, we left home on the bus or to walk to campus, we were put around other kids and adults we had to get to know. We came home, we watched TV, did homework, had supper and went to bed, learning skill sets along the way that we would use as adults. We learned to take responsibilities for our actions and own up when we did wrong. We did, at least, if we developed a clear conscience or a good sense of judgment.

If we did not develop a good conscience that is the rift that gives the impression that there is no second chance, no turning around because now we are “stuck” in this or that circumstance because we did not refine and polish that sensible use of wisdom, action and knowledge that is the mark of a person who reaches the higher levels of ego development (into stage 9 on the Loevinger scale) where the “I” and “Me, mine and my” attitude goes away and the teamwork, and we and what can I do for you stages take over. The rift seems like a huge wall or a dark block or a gigantic abyss that when you come to it seems to speak and say, “Hah, I am here because of the bad energy of others and you cannot surmount me!” It seems to get in your face and push until you want to break.

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Oncoming Union Pacific Freight Train. Through Lombard Station, Lombard, Illinois. Photo by Divi Logan.

It is like Chicago today, and in all parts of it, not just like the publicized south and west areas where the reports come from about shootings, gangs, drugs, highway incidents, beatings of old folks, and police brutality. There is grave imbalance and this upset and lack and indifference is costing lives each day. Something happened along the way all right… but what was it?

A good symbol is this freight train, a sight and sound of great power and force and horsepower drive that barrels through stops and across tracks with dozens of cars and over two miles of material superiority that it seems nothing can stop. When driving you do not attempt to cross in front of this behemoth. You heed the warning lights, the flashing beacons and the crossed arms. You heed the train’s powerful air horns and its beaming lights and you wait until it passes. Even when it is on its way you are left with the power and sound of that massive metallic mechanical mover. It resonates, it leaves a lasting impression and you are glad when it visibly disappears.

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Departing Union Pacific Freight Train outbound from Lombard, Illinois station. Photo by Divi Logan. The pedestrian crossing is visible ahead of the train.

Yes, it is gone from sight but it is not out of mind. We cross the tracks, attentive to the signs and announcements because we know another train might be on the way, and we must pay attention to where we are. The lives of others around us depend on that high level but common sense level of attention.

So the love went away, in a way. We then plunged into a world of right and wrong but combined with result and consequence, good and bad, the chance of being hired or fired, the chance for a raise or the possibility of termination. What was right was now wrong… we became and still are confused. Items in the news point to things that are plainly not right in the frame of a good wise conscience being acceptable and noteworthy. Incidents such as road rage, terrorism, shootings and gang activity are not right but are harmful and awful and mean -spirited. They are tragic and gross and primitive.

The good conscience we wanted to cultivate seems to allude to another part of the song, After the Love Has Gone. You did not want the good parts of you to stay around and were led on to join some group, to put aside your principles, to break down and have that extra cigarette, extra drink, or extra piece of pie. You were diverted into office politics, put to work in the very noise and dusty Chicago Loop, smashed into the wall of working for a bully or having to run your own company. And then what… did you then decide to return to good judgment or stay on the backwards ego path? Did you try to find what you had once in an early stage of life when things seemed good or could be changed with a concentration of elbow grease and dedication to the goal? Where did that love of work go, that doing of work just for the great feeling of it? Was it strong and grounded or did it vanish in the face of getting someting out of it, being paid for it, demanding attention or pushing others to accomplish what you want to the point that you put aside the feelings of others?

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Magnificent Jet Inbound to O’Hare, crossing near York Road. Photograph by Divi Logan.

Are you the Chicago of yesterday, of today or of a better tomorrow? Can the love that has been lost be restored? Can the love within you that has been clouded and broken be found?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2016.

RESOURCES

  1. Earth, Wind and Fire. “After the Love Has Gone”.  Greatest Hits. 1979. Comp. by David Foster, Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin. ARC/Columbia. CD.
  2. Wikipedia contributors. “After the Love Has Gone.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Dec. 2016. Web. 2 Dec. 2016.
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