Last week was a hard week for a lot of people. More friends lost jobs or are being forced to close businesses, a combination of self-isolation-fatigue and a cold snap has made the cabin fever harder to bear, uncertainty reigns, tempers shorten and dark feelings descend. I don’t know what to say, Friends. All the platitudes in the world won’t change the fact that these are difficult days.
I try to hold on to gratitude – I try to see those chinks of goodness shining out of every dark space. I’ve been accused more than once recently of over-use of my rose-coloured glasses but consistent focus on gratitude has helped me keep perspective and forward motion (even if it’s creeping, glacier-paced forward motion).
But the truth is that if you’ve just had to shut the doors on the dream business that you’ve spent years building, if you are plunged into uncertainty because of lay-offs or loss of income, there don’t seem to be any silver linings. Hold tight, my friends, for we are in this together. You are not alone.
So we turn to music. One of the most popular genres of music today was born out of the hardest of times. The Blues tell the story of unspeakable hardship through a formative period of history – the history of humanity as well as music history. The Blues were born out of the most dire of circumstances and unified people through the sharing of experience. The Blues speak to us still today because pain is still real and it feels so good to release that pain through soulful sound.
Martin Luther King said, “The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music.” (Berlin Jazz Festival, 1964)
There was another quote I was trying to find for this post about the blues but it has, for the moment, slipped through my fingers. I’ll share it when I find it because I think that some of us will be singing the blues for a while. If you need to dwell in the House of Blues for the time being, that’s OK. Sing it out. Draw comfort from the sounds that are born from pain. Perhaps you will come through it with “some new hope or sense of triumph”. Maybe it will take some time. That’s OK.
But if you’re able to, look out the window at this day and try to be still in its blue sky beauty. Gratitude and the blues are not mutually exclusive. Stay strong, friends. You are not alone. Even if your silver linings are tarnished for the time being, they are probably there and when the time is right they’ll shine.
Here are some Blues links to get you started:
Playing for Change – Walking Blues
John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Carlos Santana – Boogie Blues