I spent my adolescence listening to Nana Mouskouri: sentimental, schmaltzy songs, yes, and none more so than “I Have a Dream.” Yet the lyrics have stayed with me:
I'll bring to you the secrets of my life
Like petals in my hand and you will understand…
Demand of me all that I have to give
And while I live I'll give it gladly
Command me to deny the world I knew
I'd give it all away if you but asked me to.
It used to make me a little weepy back then. Perhaps it still does. The singer addresses a unknown beloved, who may only be a figment of her longing. But that longing was one I shared. The idea of complete surrender had a strange attraction, as did the undefined perfection of the distant lover. It doesn’t really leave us, this need for a deeper solace, for intensity of experience and blissful oblivion both. We may direct our desires to gods or lovers or just into the void of mystery, but deep down we know—or hope we know— that somewhere out there is the beauty our souls were made for.
But lovers disappoint and gods remain elusive.