Hope you all had a great holiday season, and 2013 is a good one for you! Here's a story and some news if you have time for some reading:
Since we are starting a new year, it is only fitting I share with you one of the themes by which I live. It emerged somewhere in my soul back in January of 1967, and it has been reinforced over the years by people and characters I have met in literature. The concept is simple. Facing a hopeless situation, some people choose to maintain their integrity, and they get busy living instead of dying. Most recently, this idea caught my attention a few weeks ago when Siobhan and I watched Shawshank Redemption, one of our favorite films. The film, based on Stephen King's novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, inspires the viewer to maintain hope in the midst of devastating conditions.
If you did not see the film, and you don't have the time to check out the lings I gave you, here is a brief synopsis of the story. Andy Defresne, a successful banker, is convicted of killing his wife and her lover. He, despite being innocent of the crime, is sentenced to two consecutive life terms at Shawshank, a state prison in Maine. While in prison, Andy befriends another lifer, Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding. Red," who narrates the film and the novella, describes many of the horrific experiences Andy encounters. Andy remains tough throughout his many agonizing defeats and disappointments, and Red, along with several other inmates, is inspired by his unwillingness to give up.
At one point in the film, Andy and Red engage in a discussion about hope. Red claims it is dangerous to hope in a place like Shawshank, but Andy disagrees. Andy believes we have the option to either get busy living or get busy dying regardless of our situation in life, and it is hope that drives us to get busy living. When I heard Andy say this, it took me back to a point in my life when I was confronted with this exact choice.
It was late January of 1967. I just returned to my home in Saugerties, NY, from the retina clinic associated with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in Boston. After four months and five long operations, the doctors informed me there was nothing more they could do for me, and the news felt like a cell door slamming shut on a prisoner facing a life sentence. Stunned by this news, I sat by the window in my bedroom. The window faced the backyard that led to beautiful dense woods. Not far into the woods there was a railroad track, and the sound of the train whistle was a frequent visitor to my room. As I sat staring into nothingness, I realized I would never see this peaceful scene again, and the tears began to roll. I don't know how long I sat there, but at some point, the sound of the train whistle interrupted my thoughts. The whistle was the only part of this scene that still remained for me, but it was at least something. For some reason, and to his day I don't know why, the sound of the whistle triggered a sense of hope in me, and it told me it was time to move on. I vowed to myself I would figure out some way to cope with being blind, and to this very day, I continue to figure out ways to cope. Like Andy Defresne, I keep it simple. I just get busy living every day.
Over the years, I have thought about the sound of that whistle. Was it some kind of sign from God? Since I have a deep faith, I believe it was, but I am not here to talk about God. He's just a friend of mine, and I don't push him on anyone. I am here, however, to talk about maintaining hope and getting busy living. If you are doing that, keep doing it! If you are not, it means you are getting busy dying, and I implore you to consider a change. . You have way too much to offer yourself and the rest of the world!
The "Singer/Songwriters in the Side Room" concerts at Buffalo Bill's in Shortsville, NY, continue to go well. The concerts are on the third Thursday of the month from 7 to 9 PM. In my last post, we played you a video of Steve Piper playing his song, "This House." In this post, we have a video of Birds-On-A-Wire (Brooke Pevear and Elaine Verstraete) doing their song "It Is What It Is." The song suggests the narrator will maintain her identity in the midst of a world she cannot control. With impeccable voices, Brooke and Elaine deliver the message with the exquisite sound of Perry Cleaveland's mandolin accompanying them. Here is the video. Hope you enjoy it, and I hope it encourages you to check out this venue. We have some great songwriters in this area, and if you like original music, you owe it to yourself to experience some of these artists. Stay tuned for more videos of other songwriters we have showcased.
Since I am on the topic of the songwriters' series, I want to thank Jed Curran for the fine show he did for us in December. On January 17, we are having Rick Hoyt and Cool Club do a show in our side room. Since I don't have a web site for you to explore, you'll have to rely on my description here. Rick and the guys play some awesome, in-your-face original jump jazz blues and boogie-woogie ragtime swing. The group varies in number. At the January 17 show, Rick will have the trio with him: Rick, lead guitar, vocals; Tom McClure, clarinet, flute, saxophone, egg; Oscar Yuan, bass. You might get the guys to do a standard or two for you, but they will be there to deliver their original music, and it's great. Trust me. You'll walk out of their show with a smile on your face and lots of energy. Hope you can join us on January 17!
Since songwriting seems to be the main focus of this post, here is a link to "Saturday Morning," one of my original songs. You can read about the development of the song, check out the lyrics, and listen to the song. If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you may have seen this one already. If this is a new song for you, I hope you enjoy it!
For those of you who have stumbled upon this post accidentally and have no knowledge about Meyer and McGuire, here is a link to our web site. Hope you enjoy learning about us!
Well, once again, it's time for me to stop babbling. I often go walking at night, and much to the chagrin of Siobhan, I am a daydreamer who should be paying a little more attention to my surroundings. Many of you pass through my thoughts, sometimes for a fleeting moment and other times longer. I want to thank you for being in my thoughts. You have contributed to my life much more than you will ever know. So, see you on the streets somewhere!