Nah, not really. I thought about writing to you many times over the last three months, but I wasn’t sure I had any positive, fun things to tell you. And you know what our moms and grandmas always told us: If you don’t have anything nice to say…
So here I am, with my year-end random neuron firings about things that happened to us, individually and collectively, and what I’ve learned from it all. Stay with me — there’s a quiz!
If there are any lessons or maxims I’ve learned over the last nine months, they’ll be in this list (in no particular order):
- Many — heck, most — heck, all — of us have gone soft in our nearly endless comfort with doing what we want, when we want, and with whom. And we tend to be not very nice about being told to do otherwise.
- There is always something to do at home! (Most of it involves drudgery and some unpleasantness, but it’s a great feeling when a task is done.)
- The world did not fall apart when our kids weren’t forced to take semester exams. And it will continue to spin if they’re not forced to take them when they return to school after break.
- Lots of people possess kindness and cruelty in equally passionate measure. Exactly when those sides come out to play depends upon how uncomfortable we are with our situation at the moment.
- Being alone is not so bad. I’ve had a lot of practice at it since March. I know there are those who would give an internal organ for some peace and quiet (I see you, moms and dads of little kids, and those whose spouses are working from home and are f-o-r-e-v-e-r n-e-a-r ), but the grass on the other side, and all that. Besides, I have Remy. What’s not to love?
- Teaching a performance ensemble remotely is crappy. I’m not one of the Kool Kids who jumps into the “virtual choir” vat fully clothed. The truth is you have to not only have the tech available (which I do), you have to have a majority of kids who are unafraid to sing solo (which I don’t). There are so many moving parts to this problem, there’s not enough space in my brain to share it today, so I won’t. Suffice to say that for good or ill, and for a litany of reasons, I won’t be offering my students any ethereal, esoteric, transcendent Eric Whitacre virtual choral experiences this year, or any year over the next three. Did I mention that I’m eligible to retire in the summer of 24? Down to three fingers…
- The people who have lost their jobs over this pandemic need help, and they need it now. I took a substantial pay cut this year, because events for which I am paid supplemental contracts were canceled. And boy, am I feeling the pinch. I’ve complained loudly to my family about it. However, I’m still guaranteed a paycheck, and I’m making ends meet, which is infinitely more than can be said for millions of families in this country who are looking at destitution next week, or close to it. So I really need to snap it shut and do what I can for people who have next to nothing, because the “haves” seem to have run out of, well…give-a-darns.
- I’ve realized that all our anger about <fill in topic that honks you off> only serves to make us a slave to it. The anger, I mean; not the topic. We need to let that crap go.
- You will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever change anyone’s mind about their politics. Never. Never, ever. Please stop arguing about it, because you’re neither listening nor being heard. Savvy?
QUIZ: What is something you’ve done, noticed, or are happy to have realized since February? Points will not be deducted for clarity, spelling, syntax, or general snark. Insults will, however, earn you an F. If you want to say something political, it has to be super creative and not snippy.