One year was surrendering to another, and I know clocks and calendars are merely measurements devised for our own convenience. I know it was just one more turn of our ever-turning earth.
Still, you get retrospective. You get contemplative, you get projective, and you wonder if the future can possibly make any sense.
You have to go back to the late Sixties and early Seventies to find a time when our country felt so fouled-up. So much division; so much derision.
If you dared challenge the man in charge back then you might be listed as an “Enemy.” If you dare challenge the man in charge now you’re “Deranged.”
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On New Year’s Eve, my wife, one of my daughters and I ventured into Charlotte, to Bojangles’ Coliseum, where some friends were throwing their regular New Year’s Eve bash. It’s always been pure party and it was again. They didn’t seem at all swirled up the way I was. Yet, over the course of the night, they had some interesting things to say.
“The world outside just goes. It goes, it goes, it goes, it goes.”
“We’ve got a whole lot of reasons to be mad...”
They get it.
“... But let’s not pick one.”
“I know it gets dark, but there’s always a light.”
Right, but that guy in Wash —
“Did you ever stop to accept how pathetically dumb it can be to attack those around because you’re true to color ... or a time or a place?”
They weren’t saying that about him, the Avett Brothers, but that’s what he does.
“You and I, we’re the same. Live and die, we’re the same.”
That’s precisely what I think he doesn’t understand.
“Your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected ... Decide what to be and go be it.”
“And, no hard feelings. Lord knows, they haven’t done much good for anyone.”
“Just know the Kingdom of God is within you. Even though the battle is bound to continue.”
I’ve hung with these guys, and heard them speak these words many times. This time, though we were among a multitude, it seemed they were speaking them straight to me.
The Avett Brothers aren’t particularly partisan in the “political jersey” sense. Publicly, at least. But they do have a way of keeping this beautiful, barbaric, bizarre thing we call life in brilliant perspective. Turned out that’s what I was searching for, heading into a new year: Perspective.
“I am a breathing time machine.”
I may need to hear those tunes quite a few times the next couple years.
With thanks and apologies to Scott, Seth, Bob, Joe, and friends.