Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Past is Present


This morning, while I puttered around my study, I listened to CSN (Crosby, Stills and Nash) Greatest Hits. They were, more than any others, the voices of my generation that spoke best to me. Others might say the Beatles, or the Stones, or James Taylor or Dylan or Springsteen, or Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins or Carole King or Carly Simon, all of whom I adore. (Forgive me if I omitted your favs. - our generation had SO many!) And I don't mean to leave out Neil Young, but this album was CSN without Y.

As I listened to CSN this morning, I realized why I always loved them most of all.  It's because they managed to sing about all our problems and struggles and everything that was wrong and awful, yet in the end, still left me feeling a sense of hope.

We are so messed up these days, with chronic mass shootings, white supremacists feeling empowered, racism front and center, and hateful rhetoric against anyone different from us. I think we all thought we had made it almost out the other side of the forest with that stuff, and it hurts to be shown that we were only kidding ourselves. It seems like we've backslid, but the truth is that the ugly stuff was still there, just hiding. Perhaps there is some gift in having the spotlight pointed on it so all the rats who've been hiding in the dark, dirty corners are revealed so we can see them. But I have to say, it feels like a pretty shitty gift.

So this morning, I listened to CSN sing about two soldiers on opposite sides of war, meeting by chance in the woods, sharing berries and talking about the nonsense of it all, about parents teaching their children and children teaching their parents and the possibility that both might listen and learn, and about how fast life passes and how there is not a soul alive who doesn't regret time wasted on the way. And most of this was written 30 - 40 years ago, but they tapped into truths that are timeless and equally real and relevant now. There is palpable sadness and wistfulness in their music and lyrics, but still there is hope. Carry On, they sing. Carry on, Love is coming. Love is coming to us all. I hope so.


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