Once again I have conveniently forgotten to make my New Year’s resolutions. But, I have instead become a bit more introspective. I tend to do this anyway when I read a newspaper. So much that is news is depressing and eventually leads to ignoring the news for a while in order to gain back some perspective and sanity. So instead of resolutions, this year I have collected some observations.
First of all, I have noticed that in the real world as depicted in the newspapers and the media in general, there are good people and there are bad people. Somewhere in the middle is where most people reside. Neither all good nor all bad, but slightly tainted by both sides. Being human will cause this to occur.
There are many forces which will gradually guide us to one side or the other, and these influences, whether strong or weak, determine the direction that our lives take. They are usually subtle and take hold so gradually that we don’t know we are either hooked or in control of our lives until much later in life. They keep growing and attaching (bad), or reinforcing and supporting (good), for the rest of our lives. To offset these influences, we thankfully have choices which we can make, or not. When we make them, our choices must be very strong and definite in order to hold to one direction or the other, and, if we are to survive, we all need support (by friends), and strength of character (developed by wise choices).
When we look back at any age along our life’s journey, we find that it has been a series of choices (both good and bad) affected by outside influences, and causing us to either change direction or to resist a change of direction. Changing direction can be either bad or good, and mistakes can be made, but these mistakes can be corrected at any time. This is what requires the most strength in our character. Recognizing whether change is good or bad is difficult, but not insurmountable. Our tendency is to resist change, but a static existence is also bad when it stunts our growth, either physically or spiritually. Both resting or moving are important, but it is far better to grow and correct our course occasionally than to just float aimlessly with no direction and no goals.
Music has participated in this process for centuries at a time. In ancient times there was mostly rhythm. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, etc, had rhythm and rudimentary strings, brass and woodwinds. In Europe during the Renaissance and onward, there were traveling actors and musicians, trouveres, troubadours, madrigal groups, and the refinement of the orchestra. In this country the birth of jazz started the break with European musical traditions which originated in the blues, and became the basis for most of the popular music we now recognize.
And most of this musical tradition was associated with both bad and good. There had to be music for saloons and bars, speakeasies and brothels, which were associated with outlaws, gangsters and gambling right through the present day. There were also dance halls, concert halls, hotels, and restaurants which provided a more tame, romantic and melodic type of music. There were choices for the musician, dancer and listener, including church music which has survived numerous changes of style.
So for this New Year, I will be glad that we all have choices to guide us in our growth and journey through life no matter what our age or situation. Let us all use them wisely! ………. (and either “Rock on” or “Praise on.).