Monday, September 19, 2011

In Search of...the best line of the night

I had my acceptance speech all ready. I've had a lifetime to tweak it, after all. This year I wasn't even eating junk food while watching. At least that was an improvement. But alas, the Emmys came and went without so much as a nod in my direction at home. Not that my category is televised, anyway (Best Original Song).

This year's Emmy Awards were hosted by Jane Lynch, a woman who radiates joy at all times, a feat I do not myself possess the means to carry out. Sure there were the awkward moments, the Ricky Gervais, the Charlie Sheen, the Ashton Kutcher looking more like an ax murderer than a TV star moments. But all in all, this year's Emmys were uneventful.

You'll be happy to know that, minus the scandalous events, I have found the one line that got me, grabbed me, made me wish I'd thought of it myself, and made me swear I'll use it when my time comes in the land of stars. Yes, it was Margo Martindale, a woman whose name I don't know and whom I've never seen before. She wasn't the youngest or the skinniest, but she was the most beautiful when she semi-crawled her way up on the stage to get her Emmy and said: "Sometimes things just take time. But with time comes great appreciation."

And that, dear friends, was the moment of moments for me. How many conversations do we have with ourselves about our shortcomings, about why we will never accomplish our impossible dreams? How do you reach for the stars when common sense would tell you you're a fool for even trying?

In the space between the falling down and the rising up, I suggest to you is where true triumph lives. So forget the airbrushed makeup ads with celebrity spokespeople. Forget all the reasons that quitting would make more sense than struggling does. Forget all the reasons you can't and just get up one more time than you think you can. Use all the cliches: keep the faith, fight the good fight, when the going gets get the idea. Whatever it takes, do it. And let me tell you why: not because Margo Martindale or you need the Emmy for your mantle, though I'm sure you both do, but because somewhere, sitting at home watching, is a little girl or boy who needs to know that anything is possible, that talent and hard work stand some chance of being rewarded, and that there are unimaginable good things in everyone's future. The things is - sometimes things just take time.

So whatever it is you dream for yourself, be it big or small, probable or probably impossible, I hope you take a small step toward it today so that when it comes to pass you can appreciate your journey fully.

Peace and blessings to you. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In Search idealist without illusions...revisited

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and because I've noticed this blog I wrote in 2011 getting quite a few hits recently, I am re-posting it today in both his honor and his memory.

Caroline Kennedy has allowed the release of hours of interviews done with her mother four months after the assassination of her father, the President, John F. Kennedy. And for those of us who are old enough to know what the reference to Camelot even is, it is a gift both bitter and sweet to hear the wispy voice of the late Jacqueline Kennedy once again.

So much has been tainted in the years since, stemming from our need to know everything, including all the dirty little secrets once kept hidden from the public's common knowledge. But the most important things I took away from these interviews weren't my shock and awe at Jacqueline's views on women and their place in society, though that did make me gasp out loud, but rather the President's thoughts on both how he saw himself and how he operated in the landscape of the politics of his time.

When Jackie told him she despised a particular political figure, he told her she mustn't think that way, because then she would eventually act that way. He viewed politics much like a chess game, and even though I'm partial to poker references myself, the point was that disdain is always your "tell." And you can't afford to have a tell like that in politics. Oh Barack, dear chap, are you listening? Please stop letting 'em know what you're thinking. We can all see it on your face. And for goodness sake, twist an arm or two, why don't you! We won't mind, I promise. As a matter of fact, we don't even need to know.

But here's the thing that struck me the most and made me stop dead in my tracks while listening to Jackie's voice. When asked how he thought of himself, JFK's answer was as "an idealist without illusions." And that, my friends, is what we need today. That is the perfect combination we've been looking for - the one with the beautiful, inspiring rhetoric coupled with the brute force masked behind a winning smile needed to actually accomplish the content of the pretty words.

The times we live in are devoid of civility. And though one might argue that that is the price you pay for honesty, I don't see politicians being any more truthful, and now they're just mean on top of being liars, so what was the sacrifice of courtesy for in the end, anyway?

Today I've been thinking about what it means to be "an idealist without illusions," and I've decided that should be everyone's goal, but it is now definitely mine. I've decided that whether it's the 1960's or 2011, it would behoove us to dream big and aspire to greatness, while doing the very real and unglamorous work it takes to live minus the illusion that your dreams will fall from the sky onto your life. In this day where we want success without dues paying, it's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, while still daring to dream. Had President Kennedy not aspired to passing a healthcare bill (which he failed at, by the way), President Obama would not have been able to sign one.

So while I get wistful looking at pictures of the handsome young president and his lovely wife, I know that their lives were far from perfect, but that didn't stop them from trying. There is no air-brushing of real life. We come here flawed, and frail, and hopelessly longing for that which we likely will never attain. And still it is within our ability to be "idealists without illusions."

So here's to the memory of those who came before us and strove on our behalf, and to those who strive now, idealists without illusions, who work each and every day so that we might once again know Camelot.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Search of...what endures: a 9/11 blog

Much has been written about 9/11. Much has been said. Much has been invoked in the name of it. And none of us who were alive then will ever forget where we were, how we felt, and what we did that day and the heartbreakingly uncertain days that followed immediately thereafter. These things are indelibly etched in our hearts, minds, and psyche as a nation.

As the names of those lost are painstakingly read aloud, I have wondered in years past if we've done justice as a nation to the essence of their souls. These were people who did not volunteer to serve our country the way the military does - with the forewarning that they might never come home again. These were ordinary people leading ordinary lives, who were called in an instant to be martyrs for that way of life which is uniquely American. The first responders that saw danger and rushed towards it at their peril, these are the heroes we remember, too, on this day.

As the enormity of this loss weighs upon us, even still ten years later, I got to thinking about what words, and songs, and people were chosen to represent the solemnity of this anniversary and comfort us in some way. It was the hauntingly moving version of "Amazing Grace" played on the flute, the words of our own poet laureate, and songs that take on a startlingly poignant meaning sung some forty plus years later by James Taylor and Paul Simon. Seeing these two men, dressed in suits and ties, with what was is left of their hair completely gray now, was a stark contrast to the images I hold in my head of the long-haired artists who held in their hearts a vision for a world much different than this one turned out to be.

Listening to the words of "The Sound of Silence" now, at ground zero, on this day by Paul Simon, so visibly moved, it was as though it was written for a future he could not yet know when he wrote it. And maybe it was, because the words "Hello darkness, my old friend..." seem to have profound meaning now and express a weighty magnitude in their simplicity that we could not have fully understood at any point earlier in time.

As we think about what endures when the future isn't promised to us, the one thing reiterated over and over again as the names are being read aloud, is "I love you." Even as the times have changed, what is meaningful in the end is the love felt, the times shared, the memories held in that place in our hearts that belongs to eternity.

And so on this solemn day, I hope we all use this opportunity to pray for the souls who have left us, to appreciate what we have in this very moment, and to recognize the abiding goodness that manifests even in the darkest of moments.

Peace, comfort, and blessing to you all today. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a few moments with me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In Search of...too many applicants for the job

I did it. I survived watching what sounds like it could be the lead in for a joke - eight Republicans walk into a presidential library...

I could have used some Valium, or alcohol...or Valium and alcohol, but alas I had neither, and so I was forced to listen to eight Republican contenders for their party's nomination for president mix it up for just shy of two hours whilst being stone cold sober. It wasn't pretty. If one was looking for levity, there was none to be found, not that there weren't a couple of attempts at it. But let's face it, there is nothing funny about Republicans, at least not this crop of them.

No, instead we heard words like failure, and crisis with unadulterated disdain for our current president, the likes of which were simultaneously dismissive and disturbing. We heard words of doom, gloom, and defeat, but what we did not hear was a plan on how to fix anything - except from the pizza guy (Herman Cain) who gave us his 9/9/9 plan, which I'm sure was derivative of an offer that previously included mushrooms and anchovies instead of taxes.

Mitt Romney proudly offered proof that he was qualified to fix things because he came up with 59 ways in which to do it. What he didn't offer was an explanation of any one of those 59 steps toward economic recovery. But Mitt looked splendid to me compared to the craziest of the crazy, a distinction previously held by Michele Bachmann. But last night, the award went to Rick Perry, a man who prefers we be uneducated, uninsured, and minus Social Security. Yes, Social Security, according to the man who has had 234 people executed in his state, is a Ponzi scheme. And though their words were not nearly as extreme as Perry's, rest assured the rest of the lot would dismantle Social Security and Medicare just as soon as they could get their rich little hands on it to do so.

I would love to go into great detail about the subtle differences between candidates, but my eyes glazed over when Michele Bachmann spoke, and I might have actually dozed through the few seconds allotted Rick Santorum. Ron Paul, bless his heart, is so anti-government that I'm not quite sure why he thinks there should even be a president, let alone why it should be him. Jon Huntsman, for my money, not only had a tan that rivals John Boehner's, but he actually seemed the most qualified, having been an ambassador to China and a governor. He also scored the biggest points of the night for me by actually citing where he got his statistics from. I'm convinced that the others just made up numbers to try to persuade us that they knew things that, minus the source of their numbers, we could never confirm.

It was clear from the moderators that the media considers the two front runners to be Romney and Perry. Romney came across the most self assured and (gulp) presidential, if I could use that term loosely. Perry...well, I'm fairly certain that he was armed and more than certain that he is dangerous. We should all be very afraid of him. He makes Newt Gingrich look centrist.

Yes, the games have begun, and those of us who have been disillusioned must cast that aside, suck it up, and go with our guy. There is no youthful enthusiasm this go around for us, but it's time we act like the responsible adults we are and "dance with the one who brung us."

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Monday, September 5, 2011

In Search of...pieces of dreams

One of my birthday gifts this year was a new CD titled "What Matters Most - Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman." I have to admit, driving around in my car with Streisand blasting is a pleasure I have not allowed myself in a very long time, even years, perhaps. You see, I listen to the market I'm supposed to be writing for, and it's not that I don't like it, but hearing a real live orchestra with soaring strings and a magnificent voice sent from heaven itself touches something deep within me that reminds me why I wanted to write songs in the first place. And those lyrics - expressive and poetic and intelligent - well, that's just not allowed anymore. But current market aside, the words speak to me, they soothe me, they move me, and inspire me. And so I've been thinking about "pieces of dreams." No, not the song with that title, but my own pieces of dreams.

Sometimes in order to move forward, we have to take a moment to stop in our tracks and glance back at who we were and where we came from. Sometimes we need to be reminded of how far we've come, or of why we set out on a particular journey. It's so easy to get sidetracked and veer off-course. It's easy to tell ourselves that the dreams we once had in their purest form were pure folly. But it just isn't true. Those dreams, whatever they were, fueled us for a journey, impossible to embark on without immense passion. Passion propels us forward in the moments when we would ordinarily give up. And even those dreams on which we did ultimately give up, well, even those had their place. Nothing great was ever accomplished without the seemingly impossible dream. No distant land discovered, or disease cured, or technology invented, or social justice come to pass without first the dream.

So yes, if Barbra Streisand ever records a song of mine, I will be able to walk away from the music business altogether without so much as a glance back. But maybe, just maybe, there are people listening to songs of mine, feeling the same way I feel about these songs and Barbra's voice. Maybe the beauty and the value to be found in what each of us does along the way isn't ours to know.

What I do know is that I still have pieces of the dreams I held in my heart when I first started out and truly - "It's not how many summertimes we had to give to fall. What matters most is that we loved at all."

And so it is. Thanks for stopping by. Here's hoping all your dreams come true.