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James Giago Davies: Stumbling on perfection in an imperfect world

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: james giago davies, native sun news

James Giago Davies. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

Finding perfection in an imperfect world
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Columnist

Every once in a great while, you will come across something that is totally perfect. It could be something someone created, or discovered, or experienced, but every perfect thing has a signature specialness words can never describe.

“If Not For You” is a Bob Dylan tune first recorded by George Harrison for his legendary 1970 double LP, “All Things Must Pass.”

Many other accomplished artists have covered this song, including Olivia Newton John, Rod Stewart, Glenn Campbell, Bobby Darrin and Helen Reddy. When Dylan put the last finishing touch on his composition, he must have sat back, cradling his guitar, and understood on some deeply visceral level we can never share with him, that he had created something perfect.

What is sad about that song, is every artist’s rendition of it has detracted from that perfection, including Dylan himself. It is as if, once created, no man could meet the minimum standard of excellence necessary to express the entire perfection of the tune.

It would require someone or something more than human.

So, then, how could Dylan create it?

Although I am not a deeply spiritual person, there are times I must stop on a hiking trail, because for just a fleeting moment, I sense I have left this world that I have inadvertently slipped into the perfection of Wakan Tanka, the Great Mysterious. Every little thing seems to have no beginning, middle or end—the blue of the sky, the song of little birds, and the rush of pine scented wind through the thickly wooded hillsides. Everything basks under a permeating glow of eternal sunshine, and there is a gentleness, a kindness, an uncompromisingly gracious purity to just being alive.

I think this is where Dylan was at for a time, when he picked out the key elements of that tune. Such a moment cannot last, so you savor it, as you continue walking through the forest, until you see a fence line, a logging trail, or hear the voices of approaching hikers, and are jarred completely back into this reality.

You never saw these things as rough-hewn intrusions before, but you feel like you have just been forced out of a vehicle, left alone far out in the middle of a trackless wasteland, and the sky is gray and the wind is cold, and the world is indifferent at best, and malevolent at worst. Anything entering such a world is either a threat to be avoided, or something precious and fragile that cries for your protection.

You realize, that in their hearts, this is how many Lakota people see the reservation, this is how they see their lives in the modern world the Wasicu has forced upon them. They may presently be earnestly engaged in some activity or relationship that gives them pleasure and hope, whether it’s hugging a loved one, or sharing a good meal, or laughing at a funny remark. But eventually, the course of any given day will pull them back into a grim reality that chews people up and spits them out.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Finding perfection in an imperfect world

(Contact James Giago Davies at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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