That’s around 320 columns with about the same number of subjects brought to light. Initially, I named the column after the Talking Heads song “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody).” It’s a tune that’s always resonated so deeply within my heart and soul. And I’m sure it does the same for many of you out there currently reading this.
Talking Heads leader David Byrne captured love, death and the unknown universe when he sang, “I’m just an animal looking for a home and/Share the same space for a minute or two/And you love me till my heart stops/Love me till I’m dead.”
Byrne has always been able to encompass the absurdity and glorious beauty of humanity, how we’re all just a bit ridiculous and, perhaps, need to not take ourselves so seriously — positive change and cultural progress resides within compassion for fellow man.
Each time I hear it, I’m immediately transported into this space of harmony and connectivity on the most basic of levels between people, places and things. And memories are conjured of my native North Country when I was fresh out of college and my riff raff crew and I would have late night Talking Heads dance parties once the bars closed and we simply just didn’t want to go home, at least not yet.
So, when I heard “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” late Sunday evening, all I could think of was how we as a society are so much better than what we’re currently witnessing, what we’re saying and how we’re reacting to the darkness consuming ourselves and our neighbors in the digital age of social media and 24-hour news cycles.
While attending a music industry conference in Charlotte, it was dizzying watching the TV in my hotel room throughout the weekend. For someone like myself who happily gave up cable when I moved to Western North Carolina seven years ago, being exposed to the nonstop circus that is mass media, endless commercials and screaming matches between pundits made me sick to my stomach.
Surely, we’re better than this, right? Have we all strayed too far from who we really are, which is every single one of us being part of the human race? I remain an eternal optimist throughout this modern era, someone who sees the common themes and trapdoors of history repeating itself constantly through the generations and centuries.
Wall-to-wall coverage of these recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. It was surreal to observing it all while sitting in that hotel room: the rhetoric, the yelling, the buzzwords. It’s that familiar whirlwind where “we all” get worked up about another national tragedy, only to fall again on deaf ears about any kind of real, tangible change.
And I’m not sure what that change would even look like, but I’m sure no change means business as usual, carry on into the “Groundhog Day” scenarios of running in circles as a modern society (hopefully) trying our best to navigate the choppy waters of divisive politics and policy in the 21st century.
Do I think the current leaders of our nation have all the answers and solutions? Sadly, no. I sincerely think they either will never know, or have genuinely forgotten, what it is like to be an everyday citizen in our country.
Even on the most fundamental of levels, pursuing the “American Dream” is merely trying to survival in an often-cruel world — the daily realities of somehow trying to find footing in our society.
If change is going to happen in our time, we as a country and a species need to place a mirror in front of ourselves. I’ve given up long ago on politicians and those “at the top” of actually doing anything for the common good. I’m looking at what I and you (and you, too) can do in our own backyards to help others up, to be the change you do wholeheartedly want to see in the world. The sum of all of our voices and actions has to — and will — add up to enough force to get the ball rolling in right direction.
So, where to from here? Well, it all starts with dialogue, changing the narrative from pointing fingers and passing the blame to actually coming together with different points of view and finding a common ground that will breed solutions to deeply contested problems.
I hold out hope. I truly do. We can — and are — better than this. I see it, the silver linings in all of this madness. Just as David Byrne joyously sang those many years ago, “And you’re standing here beside me/I love the passing of time/Never for money, always for love.”
Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.
1 Lazy Hiker Brewing (Sylva) will host Bird in Hand (Americana/folk) 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10.
2 The Mountain High BBQ Festival & Car Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 9 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Wayne Proffitt Agricultural Center in Franklin.
3 A reading of the new Appalachian writers collection Mountains Piled Upon Mountains will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.
4 The Jackson County Public Library will host a musical concert featuring Ashley Heath at 7 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 13, at the library’s Community Room in Sylva.
5 The REACH bingo fundraiser will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, at the Maggie Valley Pavilion.