Whew! I wondered if I would make it through a few weeks of the current pandemic, and it seems almost unbelievable that we have all been at this for almost a year! Wow! In all my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined the altering of a lifestyle that has been mine for decades. We have truly realized the depths of our stamina, strength, inner resolve, patience, anger threshold, resilience, values, and the list could go on...and on...and on. In short, we have gotten to know ourselves!!
I think I said this in an earlier post, but if not, the recall is worth it to me. My grandmother had three sons in World War II stationed in the Philippines, Germany, and Peru. She never knew if they were dead or alive...no television, FaceTime, email, Facebook, few telephones, etc. She would get an occasional letter from her sons weeks after they were written, but otherwise...nothing. My grandmother made it through that time in her life and her family's life. It must have been excruciating, but she made it through, and...I never once heard her complain.
I really thought "meaningful work" was on my side, and so I did the only thing I knew to do...I continued writing music. I have found out that whining is totally unacceptable. EVERYONE IS GOING THROUGH THE SAME STUFF!! The greatest generation showed us how to manage adversity without whining. I truly believe I became acquainted with the fact that I could honor my heritage by not whining. Of course, with the COVID vaccine "in the vicinity," though not received personally, it still makes it a little easier to be hopeful.
Amazingly, I found that this period of time in my life was quite a "productive product-producing pandemic." How do you like that alliteration? There was still music to write, hope to be shared, questions to be asked, values to examine, wisdom to be collected, and feelings to be channeled. In short, life continued.
I'm a small business, and you might wonder if I experienced negative business results. Well, no one was singing for a while, and then most people began to sing the good-ole'-standbys, so yes...my small business did indeed take a hit, as did other small businesses. You might wonder if I received governmental assistance. No, I didn't...for this reason: the people who were being assisted were those who could no longer do their jobs, and I could still write music. Yes, I spoke with the higher-ups, and that is what they said. So...I suppose I could have stopped writing music and then applied for some such benefit, but I could still do my job! Music-writing goes to the very core of me, and I really cannot "do life" happily without writing music. I can't stop, good people...I just can't stop!
I have tried to be creative as far as the places where I might go for creative ideas. Yes....you heard me. I've been forced to rely on some creative ways to research and create a creative product (another short alliteration)...prayers spoken in worship, websites that promote new public domain materials, examining realistic possibilities of old hymns of my childhood (see if you still agree with the theology that made so much sense 50 years ago!), etc. In short, I've had to creatively maintain my sanity. When I can't "organize sounds" any longer, I head to the jigsaw puzzle or a crossword, organizing in silence. All the while, finding the right note for the right word that moves me in "just the right way."
I wouldn't want to go through 2020 again for any reason under the great big yellow sun, but the truth is that I do have hope for 2021. I have hope that there will be a better tomorrow, and as we get ready to celebrate Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, I am setting the beautiful words of James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)...The Gift to Sing.
Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day -
I softly sing.
I'm not sure I could have gotten through this past year without the gift of song. I sang it, I created it, and I comforted myself with it. Thankfully, others comforted me, too. Cameron Cody, Music Director at Chapelwood Methodist Church here in Houston ministered to to me in a huge way. He and all his folks at Cameron Cody Music had webcasts several times a week of old gospel-style music that reached into my heart to heal the frustrations. The music was that of my childhood, and it took me back to my roots and formation as a musician and a human being. The old hymns, and old faith, and old theology molded me into a person who could handle a pandemic! That is really significant.
May 2021 be the year of healing and health for you and yours. May this country be healed to continue its path in wisdom, love, acceptance, and kindness. May we all find the place of healing in our souls as we "softly sing."