One of my favorite stories about Thelonious Monk: A college jazz band hires him as a consultant for their jazz band, hoping to get specific pointers to improve their sound. Monk, ever the mysterious silent type, listens thoughtfully and at the end, they all turn with great expectations to hear his words of wisdom. He chews on this thoughts silently for a few moments and then pronounces his verdict:
“Well, keep on tryin’.” (Probably followed by, “Check, please.”)
Read that story as you will, but at the end of the matter for me, it comes down to: “Nothing to do but keep on trying, regardless of any advice from others or tangible signs of improvement.”
So on this Christmas Day, after the orgy of gift-opening by the excited grandchildren, I began to wonder where I’ve spent each Christmas the past 20 or 30 years and with whom. And that sent me back to my annual Holiday Newsletters files, which turn out to be a reliable and needed reminder of what the heck happened each year. And always some mention of the current political and cultural state of the Union and always with the mixture of despair and hope (little dreaming where we would be in 2017!!). The end to my 2001 rhymed newsletter struck me as relevant today and a reminder that my sentiments about the world as it should and could be has not changed and we seem both closer and further away from realizing them. And so I reprint it here, 16 years later:
So that is a smattering of our news this year
And now we look forward to life free from fear.
A new wayof thinking, a new way of seeing,
A new way of living, a new way of being.
A world in which each life is precious and blessed,
Where no one is living at the expense of the rest.
Christians and Pagans and Muslims and Jews
Buddhist and Taoists and yogic Hindus.
Each building hope for the next generation,
By teaching the children that God loves no nation,
No religion, no people, more than another,
That now is the time to be sister and brother.
A world without naming the other as Satan,
Where each faces boldly the mistakes we are making.
A world free from ignorance, hatred and strife,
Happy Holiday to all and to all a good life!
May I suggest that we all “keep on tryin’?”