I totally missed the passing of Rod McKuen this January. Just like so many things in life, we miss important events when we’re rushing off to do all the stuff we do, those endless activities we do to stay busy, become successful. I literally forgot to stop and smell the roses and missed this milestone.
A roommate of mine in college turned me on to Rod McKuen, in the height of his popularity. A poet who dared to say things about love and loving, he moved my heart in ways I knew were important, and would be more important later on. Filled with those flower-filled days of first new loves, I look back on that time with fondness, somewhat immune to the many heartaches that are now faded memories. The passion for love and the love of life lingers in all its living color, happily, even though the pain of loss, but more the loss of what could have been, has softened.
I always wanted to meet Rod McKuen, who was born in Oakland, California, abandoned by his father at birth and ran away from home when he was 11. He would go on to write for Sinatra, and was recorded by Johnny Cash, Madonna, Barbara Streisand and many others. He sold out Carnegie Hall, and used to do a birthday concert there every year (I always thought it was fate that he and I almost share the same birthday). Who can forget his lovely song Jean from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? He wrote about places the Bay Area used to be. Stanyan Street is one of my favorite poems here:
Some other great quotes from McKuen:
“This is the way it was while I was waiting for your eyes to find me.”
“I have fallen in love with the world
And I am aware that I have chosen
the most dangerous lover of them all.”
“No map to help us find the tranquil flat lands, clearings calm, fields without mean fences. Rolling down the other side of life our compass is the sureness of ourselves. Time may make us rugged, ragged round the edges, but know and understand that love is still the safest place to land.”
Thank you, my love, a lover I never met, kissed or held hands with. Thank you for sharing the insides of your soul, for awakening in me that true passion for life. I vow that, no matter how busy I get, that I won’t forget to remember, and to listen to the warm, or forget the sea.