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“If I could” — A reality check (Thanks, Celine)

I have listened to this song various times. My responses to it have varied, even though the song, along with the artist, have remained the same. Perhaps it illustrates the truism that “the message is in the beholder, or the hearer, or the taster, or the feeler, or the smeller.” Whatever. Regardless, this time, and I as the one listening, experienced something different when paying attention to the lyrics. They are still haunting and stirring, but this time there was a little extra to it.

Why don’t you listen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU-okBUE-AI), and then I will try to explain what I experienced. You can compare notes, if you wish.

“If I Could”

If I could, I’d protect you from the sadness in your eyes

Give you courage in a world of compromise, Yes, I would


If I could, I would teach you all the things I’ve never learned

And I’d help you cross the bridges that I’ve burned, Yes, I would


If I could, I would try to shield your innocence from time. But the part of life I gave you isn’t mine

I’ve watched you grow. So I could let you go


If I could, I would help you make it through the hungry years

But I know that I could never cry your tears

But I would, If I could


If I live, In a time and place where you don’t want to be

You don’t have to walk along this road with me

My yesterday, Won’t have to be your way


If I knew, I would try to change the world I brought you to

And there isn’t very much that I could do

But I would, If I could…

Oh baby… I just want to protect you, And help my baby through the hungry years

Cause you’re part of me

And if you ever… ever, ever, need, I said a shoulder to cry on, I’m just someone to talk to

I’ll be there… I’ll be there

I didn’t change your world, But I would, If I Could!

Please do not interpret the following as indicating that I have become a deterministic fatalist, a hopeless pessimist, nor an old curmudgeon. I am as happy as ever. I am grateful for countless blessings, and I worship the Father, the Son, and the Spirit – One God in Three. How good is that !!!

Now to my point: This time when listening to Celine’s rendition, I still hear the voice and the heart of an idealist, and I like that, when there is good reason to be an idealist . . . I hear the heart of a mother who adores her child and wants the best for her. It would be tragic that the mother be otherwise. . . But, I also hear the heart of the parent who knows that some potential lessons were left unlearned, some bridges burned, some innocence lost, and time passed never to be retrieved.

Earlier times I listened and felt the pangs of identification, I ached. I projected. I imagined Celine’s infant whose life was at the portal of time, and I recalled the feelings we had with each of our three infant daughters. We wanted them to have the perfect parents, the perfect set of circumstances, the unfailing and perfect friends, the sky always bright blue that, nonetheless, always kept the earth a lusciously a verdant green. We wanted their lessons to be learned pain free, frustration free, fail free – the perfect Shangri-La.

Now, this time, I listen to Celine, and I still ache; but it is more complicated this time around. Rather, it is the ache that “If I Could” now has a companion – “But I Can’t”. It is the ache that the realist swallows silently while not bursting the balloon of the naïve innocent. It is the ache of the “Once upon the time Pollyannaish” who wonders, fearfully, what the world will be like twenty years from now.

“If I Could” has become “But, I couldn’t”. The old normal, with enough time and the accumulation of frustrating failures, gives way to a new normal. And, with that new normal comes a transition to patience, the patience that says, “This, too, shall pass.”

Thank you, Celine, for the reality check.