Well, that was quite a year, n’est-ce pas?….We lost some great ones in 2016: Cohen, Bowie, Prince, Ali, Michael, Fisher, Gabor, Shandling, Haggard, Wilder, Reynolds, Stones and Democracy.
Yes, Stones…..William Deryck, who started off this sad parade in early January 2016, almost an exact year ago. And dad surely was one of the great ones.
And Democracy? Well, maybe. Our old pal Leonard Cohen had it all wrong. Democracy Ain’t Coming To The USA, it might in fact be fading. We’ll see about that, starting January 20th 2017.
It’s not easy dealing with the passing of life, whether it’s friends and family, celebrities or strangers, our faithful animal friends, or even that orchid in the window that’s attached itself to the morning like an old dog curled up by the stove. Death serves as a silent, searching reminder of our own mortality. In death we think of our own life. We reflect and we wonder. We delve backwards into our lives and memories, and we cast our minds forward, wondering how long we have left, when our own passing might occur, where and when. That death plays no favourites is perhaps life’s greatest understatement. It is, indeed, the great leveller. We are all equal before the scythe.
But for most of us, too, thoughts of mortality and life’s passage can also bring comfort and even joy. We become more aware of all that we have. We appreciate each day. We focus on what we have accomplished, and with our wonderment of when it will all end, we think of what else remains to be done, the goals we have for ourselves and for others.
And it is a wonder to me, too, how art can transcend so many of life’s hardships and toils. Music, visual art or a grand poem can in an instant vault us to new levels of comprehension, appreciation and tranquility. Great art can fill us totally, lift us to new states of being and undertstanding.
We should revel in this. As far as we know, no other life form on this planet can be so moved. Our emotional and sentient response to art and beauty is a remarkable dimension to the uniqueness of being human. Not science or the holy books can explain it. But it’s something we should treasure and hold forever dear. I find nothing sadder than meeting people who seem inured to the transcendent beauty of art, who take little or no interest in song or the written or spoken word.
Which brings me, of course, to poetry. As 2016 closes, and as we sift through the sobering lists of those who have passed on during the course of the year, I am grateful for my own little gifts and for my modest forays into the world of performing arts.
And rather than fold my tent and remonstrate, the passing of others, the very evanescence of life itself, fires my engines to put as many words on pages as I can in the years I have left on this great planet. Watch for Such A Frail Book Of Endings in the first part of the new year, with a new poetry collection, 141 Imitations Of Love, to follow.
Maybe we can’t know when our end is coming. So let’s all love art together and share the gifts we have to best advantage while we still have them. And perhaps in the process we just might provide some of those little magical pieces that can help a fellow human being through some of those darker days that inevitably pay us a visit from time to time.
Hope to see many of you in the new year, January 7th @ the Words and Music Salon @ Vino Rosso, 995 Bay St. in Toronto, where I’ll be a Guest Poet and debut a new poem, As Words Will Bend To Prayer, accompanied by the weeping violin stylings of Tom Hamilton.