Saturday, August 27, 2011

Newfound inspiration

You must excuse my absence from the blogosphere as of late. I have not felt motivated or inspired to write a blog in the past week or two. One reason could be the copious amount of work I've had to do ; planning a tour not being the least of the time eaters - another reason, one that presses on me quite often, is that I feel so overwhelmed ; ideas dart around my mind like hummingbirds on PCP, and I in an embittered haze of lies, corruption, tired determination and hope grab after them to attempt a collective step forward.
Granted, I feel that steps forward have been made on my part - I have opened the dusty doors to political thinking in people, shaken the cage. But yet, sometimes, looking up at the gleaming spires of falsified pride, the twisted ideals of a country at odds with itself, with its true character, I feel small and insignificant. I feel helpless. Inspiration feels weakened by the dark clouds looming over progressive thinking and action in this country.
And then, something glimmers. Sometimes it's an article, other times I just wake up with a new found energy as if my mind had snuck out while I slept, gotten a massage, had some drinks and exhaled. This time I felt it necessary to share that glimmer with you.
My guitarist and I went to a local bar to play this past Monday. It was a combined open mic and networking mixer for composers and sound designers. We took the opportunity to showcase one of the band's songs - a piece called "Chains," written about the corporate chains that bind us as a people, and how if we are to break free, we must, Do Something. As with most open mics in LA, there are also comedians that perform. We had finished our song and retreated to the bar for more mingling and a margarita. The comedian who came on a few acts later was an ex-Marine. He was one of the few funny comedians there. Both my guitarist and I laughed and cheered - as his five minutes came to a close, I handed my guitarist the half empty margarita I'd been holding and went over to talk to the Marine.
The first thing he asked when I confessed I would love to discuss his time in the armed forces was, "What spin are you going for?" I immediately replied, "Yours."
I was gone for about 45 minutes. My incessantly vibrating pocket signaling a worried and tired guitarist was the only thing to break the cloud of intense conversation.
He was born in Queens (and his sense of humor loudly projected it). He enlisted, he said, as many do, because he wanted to serve his country. He said he had a lot of fun, made friends, enjoyed the work on the ship, and although he didn't always agree with choices made above him, he was a proud Marine, and he said, no one was more proud than his mother.
He was her only child and she had raised him as a single mom in Queens - to be strong, independent, proud and honest. Needless to say she meant the world to him.
During one of his tours, the Red Cross came aboard with a message for him. His mother was deathly ill and his presence was requested. He said that usually when such messages came, there was no question. The soldier was sent home immediately. He said it is exactly like Saving Private Ryan - one child, one way ticket home.
Apparently, not this time.
He stayed. He went to his commanding officer every day, sometimes multiple times, pleading, or as best he could while standing at attention. Pleading with him to allow him leave to go see his mother before she died.
Reply: "We're working on it. That will be all."
She died while he was aboard the ship. He received notice and was only then allowed to leave to attend her funeral.
The conversation turned quiet. I had nothing to say and he had nothing to add. He stared at the floor for a moment and shook his head.
"They just don't take care of their own."
My eyes welled up and I pushed them back down, only thinking to squeak out a "I'm so sorry." and "Thank You."
Not just sorry his mother died and he was forced to stay away, but sorry that is the way things are. Sorry that we, as a people, have not demanded better. Sorry that this is allowed to happen - that men are allowed to come home from service, mentally and physically maimed and not receive help or treatment. Sorry that you are sent on greed soaked missions to fill pocket books and graves. Sorry that we didn't stand up for you. Sorry that all we've done to show support is put a dumb ass sticker on the back of our cars. I'm sorry. As an American, I am truly sorry.
He fashioned a weak smile and I bought him a beer.
As the conversation sat, consistently all week, at the edge of my mind, I felt inspired. This was not a country I was prepared to accept. This was not a country I was prepared to be proud of. This was a country completely at odds with itself, with the foundations of its character. This is a country that needs help. And as this country was founded...of the people, for the people and by the people, so it is only we, the people, that can change her. I hope this inspires you as it did
Think. React. Do Something.

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