Tag Archives: Bono

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #50

It’s that time of year again, when the carols eek their way out of radio stations, in lifts and shopping centres. This time of the year is so mixed for me now. Tim would have been 65 yesterday (17th December) and all week I have felt haunted by him. A couple I had never met telling me about their encounters with him and his profound impact on their lives that they married twenty plus years ago, another person letting me know he was the one who set them on a journey of learning which had put them into a career they now love, opening a book with handwritten notes of his in the margins. It all feels very close and very far away all at the same time. I had a flashback this week as well, having not had one for a couple of years, a very unsettling way to have trauma reappear, so uninvited and unwelcome.

I listened to a David Whyte talk and he spent a lot of time on breathing and touched on death, he even used the word interstitial – a key word from Tim’s diagnosis. So, haunted, is how I feel writing this. There is anguish and torment in how I find myself this day. I am also really happy noticing myself smiling and laughing more than I have for a very long time. New beginnings and new challenges are like puzzles to unravel and unlock. Some of these beginnings are wrapped up in people, others in systems and still more in the place where people and systems play together.

This is a time of mixed emotions. I am more open to hearing his name than I have been, and I didn’t fall apart with any of the encounters this week. Although I was a little wobbly after one of them. I have been able to draw on Surrender from Bono and have just started Michelle Obama’s latest book The Light We Carry. She is an almighty communicator and formidable guide. I am deeply grateful for these two sojourners. I also listened to David Whyte’s latest lecture – who unbelievably – spent quite a bit talking about breathing. (For those who are new to this blog, you may not know my husband died 5 years ago from a lung disease which had his lungs not expelling all the carbon dioxide on each breath increasing toxicity. His prognosis was originally 18 months, and he went onto live almost ten years after diagnosis, which was its own kind of miracle.) I am taking all this instruction as a sign of ending and beginnings vying for space in my head and heart, a kind of arm wrestle is going on as they do their own in and exhalations.

Taking a breath and taking time over this exchange, between ourselves and the planet, is universal and inclusive. My own breathing has been quite disrupted of late with COVID and now a lingering cough that must be treated twice daily so I don’t find myself in territory that might bring on more asthma. Without breath in the body the body is still moving, blood flowing, hair growing. With breath in the body, we are visibly alive to others, and it is the sign of life we all look for in a sleeping baby or a person resting into their last moments. I am finding myself taking a lot of deep breaths as the residue of the virus is hanging around. I think this may also be part of the trigger about feeling haunted.

I’m ready for some rest. The election is over, my onboarding is in full swing, I’ve had my first Council meeting in the mayor’s seat, I have begun making a contribution to decisions for the future, getting to know staff and elected members is underway, and I am feeling my way through conversations and connections with systems relevance.

We all carry both our light, fears, memories and pockets of darkness, and I find this blog a way to make those experiences find their way from invisibility to visibility. The lesson for me this week is the ghosts in your head are the ones that need to be exorcised and fly about in times when they can tell you are taking a big step forward. They want one last hurrah just to make sure you are up for it, knowing they won’t be taking up much real estate in your life as it grows and expands beyond them.

The line from Whyte’s Sweet Darkness rings true, and sometimes it takes just one line of poetry inhaled, to get fresh oxygen into the lungs.

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.

In Ireland, a sacred pool after a walk through the hazel wood, David Whyte’s shadow hovering and lingering. This photo reminds me we are all in conversation with the elements. July 2013

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #48

I’m listening to Bono’s memoir Surrender and loving it. I am finding myself thinking about what was going on in my life when he is talking about recording a song, writing a poem, being on tour, becoming a parent, getting married, being in that force of nature and brotherhood that is the band U2. I wasn’t expecting his story to have so much resonance with mine and all the reasons I have loved the band for so long are being revisited.

U2 was often on the turntable, or CD player in the house and car being one of THE bands forming the soundtrack of my child raising years. The poetic and the romantic expressions of universal themes always seem to find me.

The sound and this brotherhood – the Zen master of the guitar The Edge, the sparse intense intimacy of Adam on bass, the relentless demand of Larry on drums and the ache and urging of Bono – I am grateful for the music and the leadership they have shown in and out of the studio. 

The ability for sound to hold meaning and to be held by that meaning over and over again is like a universal prayer. It is the form and function of call and response that refuses to budge, and I am never released. The voice, the vocation, the call, the response and the consequent spiralling, like the nautilus swimming through an ocean, this pilgrim is moving into new waters. 

I learnt recently a nautilus has an extremely rare ability to withstand being brought to the surface from its deep natural habitat without suffering any apparent damage from the experience, able to withstand the incredible changes in pressure. I am drawing inspiration from this ancient mollusc as I come into the new role of Mayor. There has been a change in pressure as I am washed onto another shore, I am hanging onto the nautilus to hold me and remembering the rhythm and the tides, like the music of U2 keeping me afloat in an ocean of sounds and calls demanding a response.

Listening to the book also has me listening to some old U2 tracks like Pride, Desire, Streets with no name, With or Without You, and remembering, with great love, old conversations. Grief is sneaky and Bono’s voice has been its midwife this week amidst all the new learning, new pressures and new opportunities emerging.

There have been some disturbing moments this week with the ongoing 16 days of activism gendered violence and noticing how that violence shows up. Got to watch Brazen Hussies again this week in a community setting and in conversation with strangers. I was very unsettled by how far we have come and how far we still have to come. And the soundtrack of that doco was full of chants and the familiar voice of Helen Reddy. In the course of the week, I watched a bully use all his tools to try and intimidate a young woman, she drew on the wisdom and advice of others and easily found her voice and resisted. I celebrated her. I heard myself into speech about some moments in the election campaign where violence turned up. I am still working on myself to replace thoughts of violence rooted in judgements, to be replaced with thoughts and acts of empathy. I have plenty of opportunities to practice!

These thoughts, private and invisible, are invitations to transformation. My reluctance to embrace these invitations has been visible here and there this week. The lyrics of With or Without You have been swirling around in my head to accompany these thoughts. Bono wrote the lyrics as a tussle with himself, a bit like the idea that we take ourselves wherever we go whether we like it or not, and how we sometimes have to wait for parts of ourselves to catch up with other parts.

And you give, and you give, as you give yourself away is an invisible earworm making another spiral in the nautilus. When I do an exegesis on the line and listen again to the track, I discover the music, emptied of lyrics for almost half of the track, is the response to the call.  The spaces between the notes, the combination of sounds and instruments, the complexity of the mix, making a sonic ocean for the lyrics to land on the shore. Another U2 lesson to take with me into my internal and invisible places of resistance, resilience and surrender.

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I’ll wait for you
Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails, she makes me wait
And I wait without you

With or without you
With or without you

Through the storm, we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you

With or without you
With or without you, ah, ah
I can’t live
With or without you

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

My hands are tied
My body bruised, she got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

With or without you
With or without you, oh
I can’t live
With or without you
Oh, oh
Oh, oh

With or without you
With or without you, oh
I can’t live
With or without you

With or without you

Songwriters: Adam Clayton / Dave Evans / Larry Mullen / Paul David Hewson

With Or Without You lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group