Life Goes On…

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Like many people in the United States — and in many other countries around the planet — I have been experiencing a wide variety of feelings since our recent election.

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And a lot of denial — for which I am both grateful and apprehensive…

One of the things that I have found the oddest is how most of us have continued to do the same things that we did before the election.

I have continued to buy groceries.

I have continued to take books out from the library.

I have continued to do laundry.

I have continued to get up and lead Music Together classes on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

I have continued to do gigs at retirement communities with jazz pianist Joe Reid.

I have continued to learn song lyrics.

I have continued to clean the toilet and wash the kitchen floor.

I have continued to draft blog posts.

I have continued to watch TV.

And I have continued to love the song “Life Goes On” written by Stephen Schwartz (a version of which is in the player at the beginning of this post with Doug Hammer on piano and Mike Callahan on clarinet which we recorded during a rehearsal for my show called Will Loves Steve several years ago).

Photo by Ralf Rühmeier

Photo by Ralf Rühmeier

As you probably know, Stephen Schwartz is the composer and lyricist for Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker’s WifeWicked (and more) on Broadway as well as the lyricist for animated movies including Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted.

“Life Goes On” is not from one of his shows or movies, however.

I found it on Mr. Schwartz’s first solo CD release, Reluctant Pilgrim, and have been gently haunted by it ever since.

According to Mr. Schwartz’s web site, “I originally began to write the songs that make up Reluctant Pilgrim in response to a ‘challenge’ from a songwriter friend, John Bucchino. I had been encouraging John (who had always written individual and highly personal songs) to write for the theatre, and John in turned asked why I never wrote individual songs based on my own life. He said it was time to stop ‘hiding behind Hunchbacks and Indian princesses.’ So I decided to try… The first song I wrote was ‘Life Goes On.’ This was an attempt to deal with my feelings after a close friend of mine died of AIDS. Writing the song turned out to be very therapeutic for me.”

I recently heard a great interview by Terry Gross with Cleve Jones on Fresh Air.

Mr. Jones was involved with the AIDS crisis from the very beginning, and he (although he is beautifully soft-spoken and articulate during the interview) reminded me of how loudly and angrily and stubbornly AIDS activists had to demonstrate and organize in order to make progress on understanding and treating this virus when our president and many of our elected officials just wanted to ignore what was happening.

Have we re-entered a time in US history when we will need to act up — regularly, passionately, strategically — in response to our government’s actions and/or inactions regarding climate change, immigration, civil liberties, the rights of the media to investigate those who hold power in our society, etc. etc. etc.?

 

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I do believe that grass roots action is a crucial part of how things — laws, attitudes, opinions, political leadership, prejudices — change.

What might be the most important issue(s) to which I might devote myself in upcoming days/weeks/months?

I have a sense that protecting and maintaining the amazing web of interconnections which make up our various ecosystems is a fundamental priority which underlies (and, dare I say, trumps) many of our specifically human challenges.

 

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But maybe election and campaign finance reform are more crucial in the short run, as an antidote to the oligarchic voices which increasingly dominate (and frame) our political and cultural debate?

 

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How do we address and respond to and heal the enormous reservoirs of fear and anger and disrespect which seem to be percolating in the hearts of so many fellow human beings on planet earth these days?

 

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How do we plant seeds of hope and trust and respect and love while simultaneously standing up with great power so that we are not run over by ignorance and ego and power and greed and fear?

 

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How do we nurture kindness and gentleness while also standing up for justice?

I am clueless.

I hope that music can somehow play a part in whatever activism and consciousness-raising and healing are on the horizon.

Until then, life goes on…

Thank you for reading and listening!

And thank you to Pixabay for the images in this blog post.

I welcome any thoughts, feelings, ideas, and recommended actions in the comments section.

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12 thoughts on “Life Goes On…

  1. Thanks for the beautiful song and blog post, Will. Yes to all the questions, and yes to what will arise in response to anything that doesn’t serve life in its many manifestations!

    • I’m in hibernation other than gigs and leading MT classes. My dad died last month, and the emotional ripples from that rite of passage are still spreading out… How are you, dear woman?

  2. A friend has a sense that a coalition will rise up and do what needs to be done. Yes, I said, but not a coalition exactly. I see many individuals tackling the work for which they have the most passion. Somehow, mysteriously, a rising tide will form from the sum of these parts. Since individuality is most threatened, individuals will get the job done.

  3. Hi, Will–you describe so well the feelings I had in the first couple weeks after the election–how *could* life be going on, like nothing had happened?! I really wondered why I was doing the regular stuff, why did it matter? I guess it’s human nature to move on–to grieve and then to try and re-build and be intentional and meaningful in the re-building. And I really believe that music has a part in all that!

  4. Thanks for yet another beautiful song & blog post. But so sorry to see in the comments above about your Dad dying. That seems to give an extra dimension to what you’ve written. It does often seem disloyal to get on with the life that goes on when it’s no longer going on for someone you love … and yet what else can you do? Maybe part of our shared response to what many of us are feeling at the moment is to own up to our sense of loss, and support each other lovingly into going on with life in creative ways – more than survival but not beating ourselves up about not doing more. I suspect that music, art and stories will give us the tools to express our loss, our mutual care and our hope – and that the action that emerges out of this will be the action that makes the difference

  5. Thanks Will- I needed your voice and this amazing song this cold morning- as one of my dearest friends is dying and I live in the conundrum of how to cook the food, get dressed, do life, and pre-grieve a world coming too soon without her voice in it and my heart breaks a little more each day. And then there the tasks to do in the land of the living. And a beautiful song to urge me up and in to it. Gratitude.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad passing. Hibernating sounds perfect- and being bathed in music. When my Dad died, 20 years ago now, time and space were so weird, and I learned a lot about the metal element- how slow and heavy grief can be, and how it so easily discerns the crap from the beauty. The true from the fabricated. I imagine the voices of children and smiles of old people are lovely.

    Take good care of your dear self.

    • It is a treat to read your words, Nancy, even though they relate to the sad — and unavoidable — topic of death and dying. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. May your heart stay open as your dear friend dies…

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