Every once in a while I take a weekend and unplug completely. This past week was pretty much the epitome of ‘working for the weekend’ (ah, Loverboy. Where would we be without that particular concept?) and I honestly couldn’t watch anymore as the grief of the citizens of Lac Mégantic was broadcast across all news outlets while the owner of the train company not only refused to take responsiblity, he sounded like an arrogant sociopath once he finally deigned to comment on the situation.
As of Friday evening at 5pm, I turned off and tuned out for the duration.
Nice to have the break, but I missed a whole whack o’ news- little of it good:
The Zimmerman verdict down there in the States represents yet another violation of anything resembling justice.
A young Canadian actor was found dead in his hotel room from a (likely) drug overdose.
The waste of youth, talent and potential in both cases is tragic- if for different reasons.
Both will prompt all kinds of discussion in the coming days. On Moyers and Company Lauren Feeney and Eric Boehlert discussed the media frenzy around the trial, how the story went from being about the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin to the ‘Zimmerman Show’- and the conservative ‘news’ groups that viewed him as some kind of persecuted innocent (!).
I imagine that greater minds than mine with more knowledge of the American system of (in)justice will try to make some sense of the travesty. I can do little more than add my dismayed voice, in whatever small way, and shake my head at the ‘one step forward, two back’ social reality evinced by the US over the past month.
I admit that I watched the first season of Glee. There was an energy to it that was attractive- and the flashback song selections were pretty fun. Sort of lost the plot as it went on- and as we started to see less of Sue (who was awesome)- but I appreciated the talents of the actors/singers on the show. In comparison to the endless selection of ‘talent’ competitions, Glee offered some real musical theatre in an entertaining one-hour format, and Finn was at the heart of the whole shebang.
Not being all that tapped into much infotainment, I wasn’t aware that Cory Monteith struggled with addiction. 31 is too young to exit this world- especially for someone of talent and support. Sad.
All this waited to be discovered when I turned the computer/tv back on this afternoon.
But before I did so… as part of my hiatus, I went for a good long walk yesterday. It was a glorious weekend- especially after the, um, extreme weather we had last week. We took the storm- and the clean-up and aftermath- in relative stride.
The Indy was in town- always interesting for the crowds it brings to the downtown core. And there were the usual festivals, community parties and special events that make Toronto such an awesome place in which to hang out in the summertime. LOVE this place in the summer.
Anyhoo. While out for my walk, the Shuffle Daemon was at it again. This time it seemed to be anticipating the fact that I’d need a reminder that sometimes the bad stuff- even when it’s really really bad- has to be put behind us and we just need to keep on keeping on.
Perhaps the iPod was tapped into the fact that I had just been thinking about story and song, and Papa Nez, because the first song to come up was a country/southern-rock classic:
That song never ceases to put a smile on my face. The idea of just rolling with things and moving on as the spirit takes you… something that I find so very hard to do.
Running on Empty.
Same type of message, but Jackson Browne describes one of the key things I try to keep in mind in my life: “Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive- trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive.”
The frenetic pace that he describes in the song reminds us that we need to both keep moving on and stop every once in awhile and appreciate those things that are most important.
Further good advice from Billy Joel came next:
Working/worrying oneself into heart attack (ack ack ack ack ack)- so not worth it. It’s all about priorities and perspective.
This one hurt my heart:
Although it was in keeping with the whole keep on moving theme that the Daemon had going, and despite the fact that INXS remains one of my fave bands, the tragic death of Michael Hutchence (also too young) always casts a bit of a cloud over their fantastic songs.
Still, Just Keep Walking, from their first album, when they were (ridiculously) young and hopeful, frequently reminds me to keep my head down and move forward regardless of the difficulties thrown in my path.
U2 always seems to weigh in:
Walk On is about Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the more than 20 years she spent under house arrest as a result of her fight for her country’s freedom. On a universal level, it talks about leaving behind baggage while taking only what is most important as the fight requires a change in locale or perspective.
And, because the Shuffle Daemon has a sense of humour (and because I have rather
strange eclectic taste in music):
Who better than Kermit and Fozzie to demonstrate that moving it along is about adventure and companionship- and those we might chance to meet on the way.
Sometimes you just have to let things go and shift gears/change scenery/take a break from the known and breathe in the new.
These six story songs illustrate the concept wonderfully. Although we can, and should, get caught up in the dailies and the important issues of the world, sometimes we have to shake it off and go in a different direction.
It is important to be aware of and engaged with the terrible stories that happen with way too much frequency. Our access to communication requires that we not ignore the injustices and atrocities. The stories- well-examined and evaluated- must spur us into action to counter the wrongs that we find contained within them.
Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to move on. Becoming mired in the negative leads to anomie and apathy. Being bombarded by the bad, it is hard to find the good.
And there is very good to be found. Our stories continue- regardless of how some might try to silence the inspirational voices among us.
Malala knows- and our songwriting storytellers remind us (through the medium of ‘possessed’ iPods)- that the status quo is always subject to change.
A hopeful note on which to start a new week.