Archives for July 2012

Shambala

Time travel is real. I know this because I just heard a song while driving in my car that transported me to a whole different decade in my life. With only 15 days until my next birthday, I have been thinking about getting older. In fact, just knowing I have a birthday coming up is making feel like my youth is rapidly slipping away. Every day I get a little closer to being middle aged. (For me that’s 51 and a half because I am going to live to be at least 103.) But, tonight, for three minutes and 25 seconds, I was 17 years old again.

Quite unexpectedly, as I headed toward my house, Shambala by Three Dog Night came over my car’s satellite radio. Instantly, I smiled, turned up the volume and began to sing along – a harmony that must be so ingrained in my mind, that I sang it as if I had just rehearsed it yesterday even though I can’t remember the last time I actually heard that song.

But, I do remember the most wonderful time I heard that song. Smiling in the darkness of this sultry, July night in Atlanta, I was suddenly transported back to the New York State Fair on a hot August night in 1986. It was just a few weeks after my birthday and, thanks to my aunt, I had a part-time job washing dishes in the food demonstration kitchen at the Center of Progress building. After our shift, the other girl I was working with and I decided to walk around The Fair. We wandered over to Miller Court where Three Dog Night was just beginning their free, outdoor concert. We stayed to listen.

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala

Three Dog Night was a bit before our time, but we knew the song and were drawn in by the excitement of the crowd around us. We sang along. We danced. We met some boys who were also working at The Fair. We had so much fun at the afternoon concert, we decided to come back for their 8:00 pm performance and see the show again. It was euphoric.

I remember feeling such freedom and happiness. I was on the cusp of beginning my senior year of high school. I had my driver’s license. I had a job where I could earn money and have fun at the same time. It was one of the most carefree times of my life. And tonight, singing along to Shambala, I felt truly euphoric and carefree once again, for three minutes and 25 seconds. I want to capture that moment and feel that way forever.

In my car, I marveled at myself thinking, “I still know the harmony!” as I smiled and sang louder. “My daughter doesn’t even know I know this song,” I thought, and I imagined telling her about the time I sang this song with Three Dog Night, live in concert, twice in one day.

Everyone is lucky, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala
Everyone is happy, everyone is so kind
On the road to Shambala
How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?

I am still smiling now as I write this. I am still lost in the sunshine and music and happiness of that hot summer day in the seventeenth year of my life. Since then, so many things have happened; so many things have changed. As it goes, I became an adult and then a mother, now with responsibilities, concerns and fears taking the place of the many hopes, dreams, and promises of my youth.

Coincidentally (?), one interpretation I read about Shambala said, “The lyrics refer to a situation where kindness and cooperation are universal, joy and good fortune abound, and psychological burdens are lifted.” I’d say that’s completely accurate, especially since I just experienced it first-hand.

Would I go back to being 17 again? Not readily. I’ve learned too much about life as an adult to go back and start over again. But, it’s comforting to know I can visit 17 whenever I want to – even if it’s only for three minutes and 25 seconds at a time.