Leaning Toward Wisdom
The Going Up Was Worth The Coming Down (5026)
Apr 23, 2019 · 20 min
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See him wasted on the sidewalk in his jacket and his jeans, Wearing yesterday's misfortunes like a smile. Once he had a future full of money, love, and dreams, Which he spent like they was going out of style, And he keeps right on a'changing for the better or the worse, Searching for a shrine he's never found, Never knowing if believing is a blessing or a curse, Or if the going up was worth the coming down. He's a poet, he's a picker, He's a prophet, he's a pusher, He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned. He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home. He has tasted good and evil in your bedrooms and your bars, And he's traded in tomorrow for today. Running from his devils, Lord, and reaching for the stars, And losing all he's loved along the way. But if this world keeps right on turning for the better or the worse, And all he ever gets is older and around, From the rocking of the cradle to the rolling of the hearse, The going up was worth the comin' down. He's a poet, he's a picker, He's a prophet, he's a pusher, He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned. He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home. The lyrics are by Kris Kristofferson. The song is "The Pilgrim, Chapter 33." It appeared on his second album released in 1971, "The Silver Tongued Devil and I." The man can write. This song has so many great lines it's tough to single in on any one of them. You know me, few things captivate me like a great lyric and this song could supply at least half a dozen episodes.  Many people have experienced it. Both the going up and the coming down. Sometimes I get on a biography roll. Reading them. Watching them on TV. A week or so ago while doing some writing and other computer work I decided to stay tuned to the NFL Network and watch a series of episodes of A Football Life. It featured coaches. Mike Ditka. Mike Holmgren. Marty Schottenheimer. Don Shula. Jimmy Johnson. Bill Cowher. And more. It was a nice biography marathon. Great football coaches. Different each and every one. Some won more than others. But Mike Ditka, perhaps the fiercest of them all - certainly the biggest bull in the china closet - used Kristofferson's line at the end of his episode, "The going up was worth the comin' down." I was in my early teens when I first heard Kristofferson. We mostly knew him for the song made famous by Janis Joplin, "Me and Bobby McGee." He was flying helicopters in southern Louisiana for an off-shore oil company when he wrote it. For some reason, I remember that. I likely read it in Rolling Stone. And likely remember it because I was living in Louisiana. Even as a kid I was a sucker for a good line. Kristofferson could write great lines. Not surprising since he was a Rhode scholar at Oxford and proficient in the English language. He had 2 of the 3 skills I most admire: language and music. Art, specifically cartooning, is the 3rd. For all I know Kris is a great closet cartoonist. Wouldn't that be something? ;) Going up. Coming down. Of course, going up is worth coming down - assuming you survive the coming down. Velocity will determine that. If you come down fast enough, you'll hit hard enough...it'll kill ya! Worth it? Well, it depends. It depends on how high you went and how old you are when you come down. Ideally, you go very high, stay there for years, and toward the end of your natural life - say somewhere around 100 - you crash and burn. Totally worth it! But if you go up to step ladder height and you're not yet a teenager, but you fall and hit your head, killing yourself (or worse)...so NOT worth it. But I doubt Kris was scrutinizing the line so much. Many good lines can be ruined by over examination. Just take 'em as they come and don't rob them of their glory. Up. Down.
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