A Few More Words from Clarence Clemons

They didn’t think he was going to make it.

When  Clarence Clemons got to the hospital on Sunday night he was in tough shape. But the doctors got to work and by the start of Monday his vital signs were stable. Hours later it seemed his paralysis had ebbed, too. Later he was conscious, squeezing the hands of friends and family with both hands. The Big Man returneth.

Make no mistake, he’s got a long road ahead of him. “This is a time for all of us to share in a hopeful spirit that can ultimately inspire Clarence to greater heights,” Bruce Springsteen said in the official statement released on Tuesday.

So keep thinking about him. And understand that this big man — “The future of the whole fuckin’ thing!” according to Bruce at the Hyde Park concert in ’09 — already knows quite a bit about helping other folks find their way to higher ground.

Take it from Clarence, sitting on his oceanfront balcony on Singer Island, Fla. back in March, tracking the mud sharks slipping through the breakers.

“I started working as a counselor at a reform school in New Jersey. I always told Bruce that if he’d been a bad kid he’d probably be one of my boys in reform school. But it was a tough job; most of these kids were disabled; it was the special treatment unit, an institution within the institution. Kids who had been taken advantage of by the regular community. And it was tough – trying to help these kids get through, knowing they’d be returning to the same life that got them into trouble. I just tried to give them something to hold onto.

“I taught them how to start a garden; how to use their hands to make things. Had them dig a garden and plant stuff they could eat immediately. The first crop was watermelons. All the other kids would walk by and tease them, but when the stuff grew up we’d sit outside those same kids would be back asking for some. My kids would be overjoyed: ‘Now you want what we got!’ That was a real sense of ownership.

“Sometimes I took my kids to this gym, these ten kids were so rough and loud. But I did this thing where we’d raise a parachute over our heads and then sit underneath it, on the edges, and as the parachute settled down we’d have to talk quietly, so when they came out they’d be whispering to each other. That was beautiful.

“Narada Michael Walden told me about Sri Chimnoy, and about meditation, and when I first did it I went so deep into it that when I came outof the trance I stood in front of a full-length mirror and didn’t recognize myself. It was the freakiest thing I’ve ever been through. I mean, I liked the person I saw, but I had no idea who the fuck it was. Now before the show I always have a meditation. A quiet time when I ask God to come into my life and help me become a light, a beacon, to help guide people.

(another shark fins past the balcony)

“Geez, look at that. They’re going by all the time, looking for something to eat. And sometimes people do get chomped. Just not as much as you’d think. Though that is a big fuckin’ shark, man.”

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