Posted by David
on Dec 21, 2008 in Upside-down Hippo
| 0 comments
The longest night of this year was alive with friends, family, good food, and a wonderful play: “Caroline, or Change” at the local theater. Long-time readers may recall my gushing about this musical when I saw it several years ago at the Public in New York, just before it went to Broadway. I actually saw it twice there and bought the soundtrack, which I’ve listened to any number of times since (most recently on an exercise bike at the gym).
“Caroline, or Change” always seems to explode into my life at odd times, when I’m thinking in strange ways. It is a play about rage, utter soul-rending rage, and powerlessness in an indifferent world. And it is a play about the ways people separate themselves or are separated from each other. And it is a play about Black people and Jewish people in the American south in 1963. And it is a play about oppression and the all-seeing moon and a washing machine and spare change. And I think it is a play about me, somehow, how I get when I’m just going through the motions, furious at the ever-changing tide of events that tosses me in its eddies and currents.
I’ve been furious a lot lately. Well, for eight years. Sometimes I think this evil emotion has seared my insides away, leaving a husk that could blow in the wind, but then I’m surprised at its untapped depths like when my father announces that Democrats caused the current Depression or when said Depression appears to be shredding my business to pieces. The mad scientist who provides my drugs says that this is a natural reaction to feeling powerless in an intolerable situation. It’s no wonder they’re finding Prozac in aquatic ecosystems.
I may not have been destined to prosper, but I’m not powerless. I remember this when I see the faces of the loved ones who gather at my suggestion or of those strangers who are impressed with what I have managed-with much help-to accomplish. But it seems I must always remind myself of it, always grasp for those bootstraps and soldier on another day, marching through a world awash with ever-increasing uncertainty. A world, by the way, that is supposed to end four years from today according to a dear and somewhat eccentric friend of mine. Four years from today, I think, I hope, no matter what the rest of the planet is enduring, I will face oblivion feeling more certain of my place in the universe.
I worry these are not the words of a leader, and I find myself a leader with much to accomplish in a short time, tasks that may be impossible in this unfortunate era. Caroline, she of the play, was not a leader; she was a maid. But she affected people. I think I can and do affect people. I suppose that is as good a start as any.