Monday, November 26, 2012

Well, the year marches ever onwards. There are potentially new and exciting things on the horizon beckoning me forward to the new year. I am not exactly excited about Christmas, but I am not quite as hopeless and cynical about it as I think I felt last year. I am in a new job environment, and I am meeting new people. Those doors I see before me do not feel locked against me.  I do not have all the answers, but do we ever? The journey really is about looking for the answers. Yet there are always, always more questions.  The point is which do we focus on, and which do we ignore because there are simply too many to handle in any one lifetime?

I have been listening to The Carpenters a lot lately. I cannot help but be moved by the sad story of Karen Carpenter. She experienced, with her brother, a brilliant burst of sensational popularity and celebrity that few experience. Yet it brought her precious little happiness in the end. Richard Carpenter was and is a brilliant piano/keyboard player/arranger with a somewhat schmaltzy taste in music. I do not think he meant to exploit his sister. He just wanted she and him to be as successful as possible. The success blinded him to what Karen needed, and the record company, of course, wanted hits, media and publicity. And she felt exploited anyway, in my humble opinion. Or at least, ignored.

She died at the age of 32 from complications to an eating disorder that left her body weak and confused. It does beg, for me, the question of responsibility we have as individuals, to try to help the others around us in their times of need and suffering. What can we do to see more clearly what goes on around us day to day. What can I learn from this struggle.

Plus, I do love much of the music. The albums, 'A Song For You' and 'Close To You' are amazing. And I really like 'Passage' from 1976. Those records really show their range and talents as individuals working towards a greater goal.

Yet and still, Karen thought of herself as a drummer first, and the album, 'Passage' has no drumwork from Karen at all. In the earliest days of the group, she played drums with Rich on keyboards and a bass/tuba player. Later, Karen added singing (from the drum kit). The earliest demos and the first album all feature Karen drumming and singing. Many speculate that her forced removal from the drum throne precipatated in her eating disorder and, eventually, slowly, painfully, her death.

So, I again wonder at the doors ahead of me. I had my difficulties growing up, but I was, for better or for worse, given great freedom to roam and explore. Maybe I am lucky I was born a man. Many women would agree! I do not forget the paths of humans who came before me as I forge ahead. I always try to honor the past while not clinging to erroneous tradition that clouds our judgements about the future.

Yet, I am hopeful and grateful. I enjoy what I enjoy from the past while looking towards what I might enjoy of what will not last.

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