“The great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone.” -David Whyte
Solitude is the art of being alone to know that you are not alone. To remove oneself from the “pulling and hauling” (Whitman) and settle into some deep interior self that carries you to the center of the cosmic Self we all share. Through meditation, musical practice, journal writing, sketching or painting, a walk in the woods, a lean against a tree, away from the surface conversation and tweets and news of our human failing and screened entertainment, you have the possibility of re-entering with renewed love the human community that so consistently lets you down and sends you spinning off into despair, outrage, disappointment.
As it has with the recent hi-jinks and fool’s triumph in Washington that put its foot of hopelessness firmly on my neck and pinned me down all of yesterday. And in that state, Solitude was not the right place to be. I made the wise choice of going to hear Chick Corea’s new trio at SF Jazz and now I’m back on my feet, like the wrestler Anteus who Hercules threw to the ground and each time he arose stronger.
Chick’s trio is named Vigilette and in the liner notes, Robin Kelley writes:
“Vigil is the act of staying awake when one is usually sleeping. We participate in vigils, sometimes to mourn, sometimes to watch over those in need, sometimes to pray or prepare for a celebration, or just to wait. To be vigilant is to be alert, watchful and ready for whatever challenges might come our way. Young people today have coined a new word a new and creative term for vigilance: “wokeness.” To be woke is to be knowledgeable, open, humble, hungry, creative, ready to remake the world.”
How I needed to hear that! Mourning, praying, watching over a country in need, preparing for what I hope will be a celebration on election day, doing my best to stay awake, alert, watchful. But more importantly, how I needed to see knowledge, openness, humility, creativity and the act of remaking the world lived out and made visible and hearable in each note of shared music enacted and offered to a hungry audience. It is not a time to spend too much time alone in company with one’s despair and anger and disappointment and deep sorrow that those who have buried their intelligence, fellow feeling, humility and spent the gifts of a human incarnation to remake the world for their own greed and profit have risen to the top of the power game yet again, placed their by others who likewise have buried their intelligence and compassion. It is a time to be out on the streets or in the jazz clubs or at the poetry readings or in the schools with people. Not just any people, not the people given the script at the rally, but the people who care and do their best to feed their better selves. To share the vigil in the lonely night, forego comfortable sleep to keep alert and watchful and committed to protecting the children from these monsters that are all too real and our present nightmare.
Thank you, Chick Corea, Carlitos Del Puerto, Marcus Gilmore, for your dedication to following your genius, your generosity in bringing it to the world and for your extraordinary acts of remaking the world last night so that we may all return to our own work inspired, determined and refreshed. Friends, let us stay ‘woke.”