DESPERADO: Applying The Power of Now

Perfecto Valarao

With the recent re-reading of ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, I was able to interpret the popular 1973 hit song of the Eagles with more clarity. This one has always touched me whenever I hear it, or when somebody sings it at karaoke parties, as well as when I sing it myself.

Eagles 1973

Desperado is a slow rock written by group members Glenn Frey and Don Henley; the latter was raised in southern Texas and must have idealized cowboys. One music critic described it as a “painfully slow ballad”. Later in the same year Linda Ronstadt did her own interpretation, a classic cover version. I learned from wiki that 2 years earlier, in 1971 during Linda’s concert tours, members of one backup bands were to be, later that same year, The Eagles. I had the mistaken notion that Linda was previously a member of the band. Here is the original rendition on Youtube of the song in HD. And here’s Linda’s version in HD.

Tolle’s book is actually a modern day psychology self-help manual of healing one’s mental and emotional health.

Eckhhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now

As one reader of The Power of Now, I can vouch to it’s effectiveness in my understanding of myself and of others. With each and every re-reading more ideas come up for discovery and understanding. It’s available in paperback and hard cover at bookstores for about 10 dollars, audio CD probably cost more, and kindle, e-reader or the like digital book – cheaper and free from the local library for 3 weeks renewable once. Owning the book has the advantage of walking one’s hands on each page, underlining or highlighting favorite passages; the beauty of digging into random pages or seeking a certain passage the author wrote. When a book is read, it’s just similar to once a book is written, or as in one of the older song “And I Love You So” – ‘once a page is read’, the reader and the ideas become one. The sender-messenger-author and we the reader-audience-receiver can live the message when we apply the ideas in our lives. The internet has facilitated this transfer of ideas.

I would like to credit my sister, Genciana Valarao Farinas for introducing me to Tolle’s A New Earth as her birthday gift to me some years back. Thank you, Ginny.

Ronstadt Touring in 1971

This blog article is shared for each and everyone of us, who are Desperados.

“You’ve been out ridin’ fences for so long now”

Desperado by The Eagles lyrics

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You’ve been out ridin’ fences for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow
Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home
And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone
Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re losin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?
Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late

The author is addressing the reader who is a desperado, as most of us are, sort of. The term refers to a battered, saddened, torn, hurt woman or man who is stuck in life like most of us can be, vulnerable. The author addresses the hurt one in a compassionate manner, that she or he has unconditional valid reasons for the state one’s in. When one acts in reaction to one’s past (using the point of view of the Power of Now), this may be whatever kind of leisure or comfort one does for covering up as coping mechanism against the hurt – this reaction to the hurt, may be pleasing to one’s self, but at the same time it usually hurt one’s self. Because it is insane, I agree with the term ‘dysfunction’. Short term pleasure is what helps pass the time, only to suffer afterwards a long term hell – because the addiction problem is there on top of the original problem, the hurt. Dysfunctional activities need not be vices such as shopping, gossiping, gambling, sex addiction, Casanova-ism or falling in and out of love, food addiction, cigarette, alcohol and drug addictions, coach potatoism; one can immerse herself or himself with even ‘good’ preoccupations like work and be a workaholic, or role/s such as a good mother and ideal wife and be lost in it to the point of getting burnt out. More on these roles or script or ego identification is dealt with later in this piece, see ‘Politicians…’

The author advises the desperado: ‘the queen of diamonds’, represents short term and outwardly attractive woman or man partner, because after a short time one loses out and this partner will cause misery. While she or he stands a better chance with the lesser attractive ‘the queen of hearts’ representing the long term true reflection of inner goodness.

It’s true that the desperado was once blessed, ‘fine things have been laid upon your table’, but instead of being appreciative and grateful, she or he wants other things. In other words one can be interpreted as contrary if not spiteful to one’s relationship/s for what’s given to her or him. One demands more than what’s there. This is part of the reaction /dysfunction. At some point, it’s difficult to piece together who or what started the dysfunction: the symptoms and the causes, the actions and the reactions.

She’s or he’s addressed as getting older said in the negative, ‘ain’t getting no younger’ and the she’s or he’s getting to the edge of, instead of running away, avoiding confrontation – one is forced finally to the confrontation – of her or him against problems or demons of the past. Only she or he carries the hurt of the past (pain-bodies) – as the world is oblivious of this: ‘Your prison is walking through this world all alone’. When friends, relatives offer help (books or self-help manual or psychiatric counseling), these attempts are usually dismissed by the desperado, so there’s no chance of achieving freedom from the past. And that this aloneness is also self-imposed; she or he is hard-headed: ‘Oh, you’re a hard one’ described earlier in the lyrics.

The descriptions of winter time, the day and night time, and the loss of touch with nature’s beauty, reality is described in these lines: “you’re losing all your highs and lows, ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?”. This may be what coincides the bipolar disorder of highs and lows, getting weary or a prelude to a burn out (no longer does the trick of passing the time, the novelty is worn, “In the beginning, it was magic…”).

The author persuades the desperado to ‘Come down from your fences, open the gate’ or look at the situation from a perspective of an open mind, different from her or his original position. A second parallel is written later: drop the ego. And one option (I’d add as the essayist) would be to apply the principle of The Now.

Normally one mistakenly identifies her or his mind and its thoughts as who she or he is, one’s real self. This false identification then leads to the unconscious reactions to the past events (I agree with the use of the term ‘baggages’ as these are heavy and painful) and are carried to the present or the Now by the ever-persistent ego or the false self in order to perpetuate the role it wants such as the tough front role; at times it’s the chameleon. Underneath that state, is the Awakened, the true Being, the Presence or the real Self, just as the rain when it rains may be temporarily there now, underneath that is the sun just covered with heavy clouds. The lyrics instead used ‘but there’s a rainbow above you’ which is equally good and more poetic.

The lyrics romanticizes with: ‘you better love somebody…’ but real life situation calls for learning to love one’s self first. You better love yourself before succumbing to deeper despair and suicide: ‘before it’s too late’. Self-love nowadays is taboo or frequently thought of as selfish or narcissistic. It’s actually easily defined as opposite of attachments to  roles. Self-love is detaching from or unloading these roles. These are the plans or promises we made when we were younger (called life script) that will supposedly make us happy and abate the hurt, we thought. It’s really a reaction to fear (of further hurting or pain as in separation or abandonment).

Politicians, writers, artists, superstars, prize fighters and the religious (as in religiosity) are equally vulnerable. Desperado-ism is in each and everyone of us. I believe it is universal. It’s just a matter of degrees and of stages as most of us tend to be in denial until we are hit by an unexplained depression, despair and the threat of having to want to end it all because it is too painful. The combination of denial in the hard-headed-one is the biggest-gorilla-obstacle which, with only a leap of faith and with true courage, will there be real change. The ‘hard one’ is the creation of the ego who always want to make one believe she or he is the good guy, the hero in her or his life history, the center of the universe – and that to admit a mistake or to be in the wrong and to change course is not going to happen. The bigger the ego, the stronger is its influence. “Come down from your fences, open the gate’: drop the ego. Becoming aware of these things is the beginning. The hope is there, here and now. It’s always been there.

One contributor’s interpretation I picked up on my research for this piece, one of several websites dedicated to song meanings, she or he says that the lyrics of the song pertains specifically to a workaholic on the verge of a burnout.

The side by side interpretation pdf file is in this hypertext. Text and graphics by pcv 07/15/2012. Other resources are:

What’s your opinion? Please leave a reply below.


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