Greetings after another long pause between blog posts!
I hope you remain well — fellow blogger or visitor from beyond the world of WordPress — and I am very grateful that you are reading this blog post.
I have continued reading (and commenting on) other blog posts during the past many months, but I didn’t have anything I felt compelled to blog about.
When I logged into my account yesterday, however, and looked at my stats, I was delighted to find that people have continued visiting my blog and listening to music even when I am not actively blogging.
It is truly inspiring to learn that — in the first three weeks of May — folks have visited from the USA, the UK, South Africa, Canada, Poland, Australia, Norway, Germany, India, Italy, China, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the Åland Islands (which I just learned are part of Finland at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea).
I’ll say/write it again.
Today’s blog post features a song called “Simple Rules” written by my friend Molly Ruggles.
Molly is a songwriter, pianist, arranger and singer who recently retired from her day job at MIT.
She created this lovely vocal arrangement for her and me and our friend Carole to sing — and we recorded it during a brief lull in the Covid pandemic last December.
Molly, Carole and I — as well as the recording engineer Peter Kontrimas at whose studio we were fortunate to book a session — were well-vaccinated AND wore masks except for when we were in our separate recording booths (connected via headphones with each other and with Peter).
We then fixed/mixed/tweaked/mastered it via Zoom with another great recording engineer, Doug Hammer — whose name will be familiar to many of my blog readers because he is also an astounding pianist with whom I have recorded many, many songs.
Molly’s song has inspired me to think about other “simple rules” that we human beings would do well to honor.
For example, this morning I read details on a BBC website about how many of the staff members at 10 Downing Street chose to ignore the official guidelines for appropriate behavior during a pandemic. One staffer explains that they felt that they were in a bubble (of privilege? of denial?) and thus ignored what the official guidelines were.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
One of my favorite “simple rules” is the rule/fact that we animals breathe out what plants need to stay alive (CO2) — and plants breathe out what WE need to stay alive (O2).
I often feel as though we have done a very poor job educating each other about this profoundly simple rule.
Healthy oceans (full of plants ranging from single-celled phytoplankton to forests of kelp) and healthy forests (such as the Amazon jungle) and healthy agricultural fields and healthy gardens are not optional.
They are vital to every breath we are blessed to breathe — and which we hope to continue to breathe — here on planet earth!
Another simple rule/guideline which bears repeating again and again and again is the profound power of apology.
We all make mistakes.
In fact, making mistakes is an important way that we learn things — about how stoves can be too hot to touch, about how we need to look both ways before we cross a street, and about how lemon extract tastes more burningly bitter than delightfully sour (a shocking revelation which I learned at an early age when experimenting in the kitchen with my sister and one of her friends).
Apologies exist to repair human relationships when one person makes a mistake and hurts another person. Or another species. Or another community. Or an entire ecosystem.
In fact, I feel that much of the stress which we experience these days — directly in our own lives and indirectly from politicians, business leaders, and other authority figures — is due to past injuries for which no one has ever sincerely, authentically, and heartfully apologized.
Apologizing is not easy — but it is very worthwhile to do.
And if we are able to make amends for our mistake — taking action to make up for what has happened in the past — that is an even more profound act of healing.
Another deep breath in.
And another deep breath out.
I will end with one final simple rule: short blog posts are easier to read than long ones!
I am aware that I have written way-too-many, way-too-long blog posts in the past.
So I will cut this short and end with my customary thank yous… along with a lovely underwater photo of kelp (breathing in C02 and breathing out 02…)
Thank YOU for reading and listening to this blog post.
Thank you to Molly Ruggles and Carole Bundy for their friendship and for our shared love of music.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
You are always welcome to visit my website — where you can find more songs (and learn more about my musical life here on planet earth if you are curious).
I earn only a fraction of a cent any time someone plays one of my recordings on a digital music service — but they all add up…
And if you are inspired to create a “Will McMillan featuring Doug Hammer” channel, that is even more helpful.
Lastly, if you live in the Boston area, Carole, Molly and I will be performing as part of Arlington Porchfest on Saturday, June 18th (rain date: Sunday, June 19th) here in East Arlington, MA.
We would love to see you if you decide to drop by for a song (or more!)