Week 370 // End Cycle (1)

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Shake the camera’s aim
From the perfect lie
Gone the sting of first losing
Gone the ache of past omens
If only in the rain

All the seasons change
All intentions falter
Best resolve is yours
Fight for it
Oldest trick in the book
Don’t fall for it
The very last of your kind
Stand for us
If only in the rain

Don’t them out of your sight
Don’t them out of your sight
Can’t let ’em out of your sight

Even in the rain
Even in the rain

As 2016 drew to a close, I allowed myself a ponderous three-part song series call “Long Year” to parse the strangeness of inhabiting such a tumultuous and emotionally taxing period. I had succumbed to an election-year fury that had rendered me pale in the face from near-objectless rage. Trump was too big a concept to rail against. I felt that the culture had died in 2016.

That year was exhausting, but the fatigue it rendered now seems almost quaint in comparison to the collective trauma with which our society attempts to grapple. I know few people who would accuse me of hyperbole on this matter. Whether we are feeling death throes or birth pangs, it is clear that we are a people (or a set of peoples) in transition. We feel a creeping sense of alienation and otherness when we look upon our neighbors. This is by design. We live under a regime that benefits from division and seeks to draw contentious distinctions between as many groups as possible. Sometimes the sting of it is acute, and other times the ache makes us numb. Sometimes my anger empowers me, and other times it makes me feel dirty, because that power is reactionary.

This is a song about cleansing oneself. My dad recently drew my attention to a post-election essay that I wrote detailing my disappointment in my own anger, and a hope that I might seek justice (in the broadest sense) through love instead. He called the essay a sermon, which I found flattering, but which also makes it all the more difficult that I have struggled to take my own advice. I wrote:

Anger is good for seeking vengeance. Love is good for seeking justice. That’s why vengeance beat justice in this round. We tried to fight for justice with anger and indignation, and love would have worked better. So marshal your love and put it to work in your community. Put it to work by organizing. Put it to work by demonstrating. Put it to work by running for office. Put it to work by writing letters. Put it to work by opening your doors to your neighbors. Put it to work by listening. Put it to work.

I’m not yet ready to climb to such a lofty moral perch. I haven’t yet done most of those things, because I’m still angry. I need a cleansing rain to wash away the lingering shame that anger causes me to feel, so I can work through the anger and find a better source of strength. I might not be big enough for that strength to come from love. That remains to be seen.

Parsing this year will also require more than one song. This is part one of three of 2017’s End Cycle. It will continue on Christmas Day and on the first of the New Year. After that, we’ll all be someplace else.


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