RSS

Monthly Archives: December 2015

High Hopes

I like this joke: The optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist sees the glass as half empty and the engineer sees the glass as twice as big as it needs to be. Maybe it is because despite an engineering degree, and a fascination for the darker sides of story telling, I remain in my heart an optimist even while understanding the arguments of the other two camps. It’s all going to be okay, somehow. I really think that.

Some schmaltzy things turn me off, particularly if I feel like my emotions are being manipulated. Others, ones that sort of just are what they are, can put a huge grin on my face. When I was writing x0, a novel with plenty of dark scenes, I wanted a ridiculously hopeful song for Lola to suggest using in order to provide Nwanyi with encouragement. I found the late 50’s classic “High Hopes” and it was perfect. This song, which most people associate with an ant moving a rubber tree plant, was first popularized by Frank Sinatra, with music written by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn. It was introduced in the 1959 film “A Hole in the Head”.

If you want to take a break from all that Christmas music you’ve been hearing, enjoy this video of Frank Sinatra singing High Hopes with what must have been a group of school children from the late 50’s or early 60’s. It is guaranteed to put a giant grin on your face and might even add to your holiday good cheer.

You can also buy this song at Amazon.com. The following is the excerpt from x0 that mentions “High Hopes”.

Lola savored the feeling of Somadina’s friendship. She’d had so few women friends over her adult life. She’d been too busy with work, with Alex, with the kids. Too often there had been so little in common. And here was a woman, for heavens sake barely older than Lola’s own daughter and a world away in every sense of the word. Yet in her hearty self-sufficiency, in her attachment to her child, her loyalty to her sister, and in her good fortune in attracting the affection of a genuinely good man, they had more in common than Lola had with most women she knew.

Lola reached back with a mental equivalent of a hug.

We are both strong telepaths, she thought, knowing that Somadina would pick up the feeling and fill in words which were close enough to the meaning to get the point. We know that Nwanyi is at least a weak receiver herself after all of her association with you. At least Olumiji thinks so. Let’s try to send her a message together. Sort of doubling the transmitting power, if you will. Lola felt Somadina’s confusion over the last phrase. She tried again. Let’s push together. An image of two women pushing a large rock. Somadina got it.

Music, Somadina suggested. Nwanyi and I both like music. American music.

Okay. Let’s pick a song to encourage her. Lola thought for minute, and tried singing something in her head. Out came a song from her childhood, Frank Sinatra’s hit High Hopes about an over-achieving ant trying to move a houseplant.

What is that? Somadina asked. Don’t you know any rock and roll?

Yikes. She didn’t think there was a rock song that was particularly encouraging about someone surviving.

 

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 21, 2015 in music for peace

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Christmas is Not about “love, but …”

It is probably because I’m doing gentle yoga to Christmas music in a candlelit room. These are the kinds of holiday activities you find in my new home town in the mountains of North Carolina. It is true, I’m a long way from Texas. However, I’m having trouble clearing my mind because they’ve decide to use songs with vocalists, which I think is a bad choice.

“Describe in one word how God feels about the world right now.”

The observer in my head has decided to take my mind off of the lyrics about Frosty by springing a pop quiz. This is what happens when you live inside of my brain.

Free Your Mind 1I don’t even hesitate. “Sad.” And then because I don’t like following rules, even my own, I add “very sad.”

There is silence while my memory replays current events. Perhaps I’ve been watching the news too much lately. It has started to disturb even my dreams. At the instructors prompting I move into a modified pigeon pose while a softer song croons “Peace on the earth, good will to men, from heaven’s all-gracious King. The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.”

Yes, angels singing. My spiritual notions are vague, and I wonder why I’m asking myself questions about the emotional state of a deity in whom I have at best a non-traditional belief. Then I realize that it’s not God I’m thinking about. He, She or It may in fact be sad.The point is that I think God should be. Because I’m more sad everyday as I listen to the intolerance and fear around me whip itself into ever larger volumes.

Look people.Two thousand years ago, a child was born. He went on to say things that translated roughly as “love one another” and “whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” He even went so far as to suggest that “if anyone wants to take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Yes, your whole coat. Whether you believe he was the Son of God, a great prophet, or just a wise man who was well quoted, his message of generosity, concern and love is quite clear. In my heart of hearts, that message is what I celebrate every Christmas. This is a holiday about love.

The voices answer. “Of course it’s about love, but ……… we’ve got to protect ourselves. But ……. they’re doing horrible things to us. But they started it. But they took it to a whole worse level. But they’re more animals than people. But I can’t have all the things God thinks I deserve if I share with others. But we need to take care of our own first. But God wants us to keep this nation great. But God wants everyone to believe what I believe. But if we pay attention to everyone’s suffering then, then, I don’t know what will happen.”

beautiful life7We’ve moved on to the restful savasana pose that signifies that class is almost over. “Silent Night” is playing softly and it brings back childhood memories of midnight mass out in the country in Western Kansas. “Sleep in heavenly peace,” it says. I have a lavender scented warm cloth draped over my eyes now, which is good because tears are rolling down my cheeks. Not that anyone in this class would be bothered by my emotions.

I remember being a child staring at a sky full of stars as we drove out to the small church my father grew up attending. I remember a feeling of magic as I realized that the whole world was seeing the very same stars that I was, and I remember believing that peace on earth was possible because surely tonight as everyone looked at this sky they understood deep in their hearts what this day was really about.

I wish I had been right. How did we ever get the idea that Christmas celebrates the hundreds of reasons to hold back from caring for each other. This holiday is not about “love, but.”

It is about love.

For other slightly offbeat thoughts about Christmas, see my posts “The Future of Christmas,”Duct Tape and Christmas Cards”and “The Women of Christmas.”

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2015 in empathy, oneness, peace

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: