My disappointment in the 2016 election kept me awake all that night with fear, and busy at work all the next day with anger. But these jumbled-up stages of grief can’t be a destination, or even a resting spot for long. I’m profoundly sorry that Hillary Clinton lost, because I think she would have made a fine President, but life and our nation and our world go on, whoever is elected. At the very late age of 46 years, I’m using this failure of our electoral system for motivation.
Frustrated by my own run of mediocrity in recent years, but far more than that, frustrated by the frighteningly massive resistance to progress in this country for women and minorities, and on all issues in general, I’m turning my despair into resolve.
I can and will take a role in the fight against ignorance and regressiveness in our nation and the world.
I will continue to work to provide a living for my family, because my first responsibility is here at home. At times like now, when professional work in the energy industry is very hard to find, if that means packing potatoes as a temp worker, that’s what I’ll do.
I will educate my children to have the bearing and the awareness to communicate with and understand the people around them.
I’ll look for ways to have more fun with my wife, even when our budget is stretched desperately thin, because our family should be a warm and loving place.
I’ll join Toastmasters and practice my public speaking skills.
The time I’ve wasted watching cartoons, watching porn, and surfing aimlessly on the internet I’ll spend training my mind, practicing my communication skills, and developing my ideas.
I’m an oceanographer by training, with several years’ experience working on and around offshore oil and gas equipment. I have ideas for an offshore turbine assembly to generate electricity from ocean currents. I’ll complete the design, model it, and begin working to develop it. In the fields of energy and environmental protection, this will not be where I end, but it’s where I’ll begin.
And I will sing every day, because music is beautiful and it cultivates in me the things I want to cultivate in the rest of the world.
I’ve had the pleasure several times of singing in the chorus of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I half-jokingly describe it as better than the Iliad and the Bible combined. (A respectable second on the list is Mozart’s Requiem, and high on my most-loved list are Allegri’s Miserere, Randall Thompson’s Alleluia, and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.) My first time singing the Ninth was during my junior year in college, when I bought a CD and listened to it every single day of the semester leading up to the performance. My roommate, now a professional conductor, was scandalized (“You could at least have picked a real interpretation,” he spat. Hey, buddy, I got the CD I could afford.) Erik also insisted that I’d get bored of the piece and lose any feel I might otherwise have for it, but the opposite happened. I developed a schema for the symphony’s progress, of the story it tells and the epiphanies it delivers.
Beethoven wrote in the time of Napoleon. The Ninth Symphony is about war, war not only fought with weapons, but also in the mind, or any clash of competing interests in any field whatsoever.
The first movement is the summons from the world to an individual soul: “Wake up! Important things are happening! It’s time to get involved!”
In the second movement, the soul tries to avoid the summons and hide in a reverie of love. This proves ineffective and leads to the third movement, when the soul begins to respond to the world’s summons, at first with trepidation, but then with growing elation. As in Pastoral Symphony, Beethoven could masterfully create pictures and scenes with music, using the rhythms and instruments to imitate the pace of animals, or the rumble of thunder.
In this third movement there appears the jaunty rhythm of a prancing horse, the soul exulting in its readiness. And twice in this movement there is a flourish of strings and horns, like a herald, the soul calling itself to action. In the first instance, the soul refuses its own call, and the flourish fades into the faint chords of the second movement. But in the second, the soul accepts the call, the chords deepen and broaden in strength, leading to the fourth movement.
The fourth movement is a world of its own but I’ll add that at the very end, Beethoven creates another picture with a descending scale of strings, leading into the final, unison “Freude schöne götterfunken,” of a dove fluttering down on giant wings to light above the chorus and audience.
With this election, I feel the second call has come from within myself, and I’m finally answering.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/File
This post was originally published on Daily Kos.