Remember when you felt really hopeful about 2021? Like, a week ago?
I was at the dentist on Wednesday when the news of the events at the Capitol exploded into awareness. Thankfully, I was up and out of the chair and not being poked and prodded and scraped any longer. (Can you imagine learning about the attempted coup while a dentist is working on your teeth? I actually don’t mind going to the dentist – I really like my dentist – but wow, for a lot of people, that’s the stuff of nightmares!) Dr. C. has NPR playing throughout his office 24-7, and a discussion about vaccine rollout in the state of Maine was cut short with an abrupt sentence from NPR headquarters in Washington, something about ‘the Vice President is safe’. He and I both froze in our tracks as he was handing me my next-time appointment card.
I got out to the car and called Shawn. ‘What’s going on?’ My heart started to race.
After a brief exchange, trying to make sense of things, we hung up and I turned on the radio for my drive home. As I drove along roads that I hadn’t seen in months – the bright, beautiful, frozen landscape of Western Maine in early January – the horror of what was happening in D.C. was sinking in, and I couldn’t stop shaking or crying.
I couldn’t wait to get home, and see and hug my best friend.
Wednesdays are live-stream days for us, so the question bubbled up: Do we go on with the show? Will it seem tone-deaf to start up Facebook Live and sing songs like ‘Pennies From Heaven’?
We did go on with the show. We would have picked up our instruments and played anyway, even if there was no stream scheduled that day. So, why not do it, and share it, and see what happens? We started with a rendition of Horace Silver’s ‘Peace’, and the hour unfolded from there. And we put our hearts into every note, every word, and the folks who tuned in thanked us for it, for giving them a respite from the shock and sadness of the moment.
Using the turning of the year as a pivot point for one’s outlook and plans is a time-honored tradition. There is this sense that we can shape the New Year into anything we want. ‘Happy’? Sure. ‘Peaceful’? That sounds good too. ‘Joyful’? I’m all for it. When we look more deeply into this tradition, this exercise of renewal, we can see that every day, every hour, every moment is the start of a new year, the start of another chance to set things right.
I am no pundit. I just want to live in a world where people don’t believe that they have to resort to violence – ANY kind of violence – to be heard and understood. I don’t want to write anyone off. I want to listen and learn and understand and have compassion and empathy. Boy, is that tough when you don’t agree. But I’m here, and I’m trying. Holy hell, am I trying.