I recently discovered Youtube and have spent the last few days watching live footage of my favorite singer songwriters. It is an authentically enjoyable thing to do. On September 30th 2004, David Letterman had Pearl Jam on his show to sing their rendition of Bob Dylan’s song “Masters of War”. The context of Bob Dylan’s song was the Vietnam War but it resonated perfectly with the second year of our second war in Iraq. Eddie Vedder’s performance is extraordinary, he is Bob Dylan and he is himself; the song he sings is from another time and it is from his heart now. David Letterman put’s a lifetime of work behind sharing this moment with the world. All in all, anyone associated with this performance, in the weeks before to the 2004 presidential election, has to have felt that they were making a difference. The spiritual power and political relevance of Pearl Jam’s performance that night is palpable even years later on Youtube.
Reflecting on that night, I could imagine the sense of excitement and purpose, a sense of the power of truth, the power of art, the power to affect the collective consciousness in the name of love. Then the election comes and with it confusion, disappointment, disillusionment. Maybe what we felt that night was not real. We were there, we felt the power of what we did, why do I know doubt that power? We often find ourselves like someone who sows a field and a week later, looking out over an open field asks: Where’s the corn? I worked hard, I planted the seeds at the right depth, at the right time of year, time of day, just enough shade, just enough sun. I even said a prayer for each seed, I felt the power of what I was doing, where is my corn!
We feel the power of love often. What we must learn is to trust it.
MLK day and Easter are days of reflection for me; Easter because of my own experience of resurrection from addiction and MLK day because of my own experience of American racism. As a black child being raised by white parents in the 1960’s and 1970’s the topic of racism in America could not have been more personal, more painful, or more confusing. In adulthood I have found resignation rather than peace. Martin Luther King Jr. represented a spiritual destiny beyond resignation. He embodied the possibility that the word community could extend beyond the boundaries of our personal preferences. He stood for the possibility that unconditional love could be our future. He championed the tenderness that makes our hearts jump and gives us goose bumps. He dreamed of a life worth living.
The New Year ended for my daughter Jasmine around 845 pm after doing a little “Bear Yoga” with dad and snuggling with mom. My son, Dylan celebrated the New Year by sleeping and eating in turns. My wife and I spent the last hour of 2006 watching “An Inconvenient Truth” which is now on pay per-view. As the year came to an end I was drawn to this documentary because I wanted to finish the year watching someone live up to his potential.
Whatever one might feel or believe about global warming or the former vice president/almost president one cannot help but be impressed by the sheer follow through of Al Gore when it comes to this issue. “An Inconvenient Truth” documents a lifetime of work whose legacy, for now at least, is a film of tremendous importance. I have watched this documentary five or six times over the last six months and I never tire of it because of its extraordinary nature. It is a film that simultaneously outlines a global crisis and depicts, in the response of an individual to that crisis, the human capacity to rise to the challenge. It never fails to stir the heart. I watched Al Gores film as the new year approached to be reminded that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Happy New Year to all of you, God bless and Namaste Rolf