Attempting to make sense out of a "post-fact" society, and place seemingly absurd moments into historical context.
There were some who predicted that Hell would freeze over if the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Let's just say that strange things have happened in this year when the Cubs finally did. I have a big crack in the side of my beloved Martin guitar. A whole lot of great musicians have left this earthly plane, including this month Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell. And then there is this election thing.
I took most of the autumn off from touring. I've learned in the last couple elections that people get so distracted and agitated by the near-constant stream of tension-inducing noise, they forget to breathe and take care of their most basic needs, like enjoying music and entertaining themselves now and then. One can spend a lot of time working hard far from home, and return there with barely enough revenue to have covered the gas and food. I opined that my time might be better spend doing productive things with family, planning a busy 2017, and doing some much-needed home improvement projects.
As much as I would like to play ostrich, bury my head in the sand and go about my little life doing what I do, none of us have that luxury now. I have long said that I am fortunate to be blessed with this life in music, traveling around the country up close and personal and observing people and places in a time of tumultuous and transformational change. Well, the ante just went up. And if this is how I view my life and my work, then I have a responsibility to do so now more than ever.
I'm sick of talking about the election, or maybe more accurately, hearing all the talk and analysis and lament and the prognosticating too. I'm not happy, for a whole lot of reasons. Some ugly ideas have been empowered and emboldened, and the virulence with which they have come out into the light feels a bit like an orc army from the Lord of the Rings is waiting to tear down everything that is dear to us in this green vale. We are supposedly living in a "take it back", "post-fact" era, as if somehow institutionalized differences in status were "great", or that somehow the laws of physics and basic economics can be repealed. It is hard to wrap my mind around many of the absurd things that are said, printed and shared, and thus I tune it out. Probably not a good idea.
I value competence and wisdom and adaptability in a leader and government, and I worry that we have sold ourselves far short. It will be a different way of doing things for the next four years, and I'm not sure it's going to be all that good for my family and I. We shall see. We've made the choice according to our system, as it has been co-opted by the two parties that have hijacked it to optimize their own survival. Perhaps now we the people dig deep at the roots of this kudzu and poison ivy that have overrun our system. I do fear it is a more difficult work than we've grown accustomed to doing.
This is not the first time that we have elected people whose personality, where intimate perceptions threaten to obscure the national interest, at first seems ill-suited for the enormously mundane and intensely hair-trigger duties of the office - and we've survived it somehow. I'm thinking in particular of the two Andrews, Jackson and Johnson, and of course Nixon too. It is the ebb and flow of history. It is up to us to manage how this chapter of our story plays out. Believe it or not, there is good to be found in these times too, along with the dangers of applying a 20th-century mindset to solving 21st-century problems, and enabling yet another round of demonizing "others".
I'm ready to blow 2016 a goodbye kiss now, and figure out some stuff about 2017. I don't remember having two New Year's in a row where I was really glad and relieved to see the calendar switch, and make that mental fresh start. It's bound to happen in life. We are still the same people. I'm still me. I still have my guitar. We still have each other, and we have our families, and at least some of our friendships that survived this rancorous summer and autumn. Some of that is due to hard work by one or more of the involved parties, to see the good in each other and not to see simply a 1-dimensional icon representing the candidate for whom we might have voted.
So here we go then, into the uncharted lands and times ahead. I will do as I've always tried to do - love my neighbor, no exceptions for color, economic status, political philosophy, or anything else. Lend a hand when I can. Care about my community, my country, and this one planet upon which we are utterly dependent. Have faith that things will even themselves out over the long haul, and that I will not bear witness to the end of a dream for my kid and yours. To not be afraid to occasionally check on my beliefs and attitudes thinking that I know more than I do - hopefully the goal of any lifelong learner. And, be willing to step up and take a stand when, as always and inevitably in a supposedly citizen-driven, it is imperative to do so.
Onward. Forward. Together. Open hands, open heart, open ears, radar up. And rooting for our Washington Nationals to win the next World Series. Hope springs eternal for baseball fans.