Into the Great Wide Open

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Tom Earl Petty was an American boy who sang about an American girl and produced a love affair that spanned the world.

Petty died unexpectedly on October 2, 2017, leaving family and friends devastated. Tom Petty was undeniably American, and like Dylan, Petty was a storyteller who left a legacy of anthems.

For much of my childhood, I found it hard to resist singing along in his distinct nasal intonation which made him instantly recognizable. It’s hard to imagine anyone else singing these songs with the same conviction and self-assurance as Petty did. There was no doubt Tom Petty meant every word he sang.

Damn the Torpedoes, was one of the first albums I bought with my own money. There was something about the boy with the toothy smile and the Rickenbacker guitar that drew me to it.  From “Refugee” to “Louisiana Rain” there wasn’t a single song on it that didn’t have some kind of influence over my teenage temperament. No matter how I felt, Petty had a song to match it. TomPetty&theHeartbreakersDamntheTorpedoes

As I got older, I continued to follow Petty, going to the extent of buying his releases in vinyl and cassette so I could take him with me in the car.  I had a crappy part-time job I hated, but it afforded me money for records and concert tickets.

Petty showed up every summer, like clockwork. He was more than just a concert, he was a life-altering event. When Tom Petty came to town everything leading up to it stopped. My first serious boyfriend was also a Petty fan and we spent countless hours sitting on a blanket in the lawn seats surrounded by the magical atmosphere of cannabis scented air, lighted by stars and stage lights, singing along and leaving us hoarse, but blissful for days. I lost track of how many times I saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but I haven’t lost the lessons.

Tom Petty taught me that it didn’t matter where you came from if you believed in something. He imparted the idea that “even the losers” had value and their struggles were worth fighting for. Tom Petty taught me that nothing was easy, but nothing was impossible if you were willing to fight for it.

I never met Tom Petty, but there were many times when he felt like my best friend. His death has struck me hard and it’s made me realize just how strong the bonds you form with your early music heroes are. I won’t ever be able to tell him how much he meant to me or how much strength he gave me when I needed it, but he taught me that it was okay to be an American girl who believed in learning to fly. 800px-Tom_Petty_Live_in_Horsens

 

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Why Donald Trump Needed to Happen

If you are like me, you are probably stunned right now. Feeling a bit uncertain, angry and even ashamed. Sometimes, events are a message from the universe showing us there is a reason why they happened. The answer is because they needed to.

Think about how you felt as you watched the results, never losing hope or faith that Hillary would prevail. Think about how good and secure you felt at that moment. Now, think about how you felt when that security was pulled out from underneath you. It was all a bit surreal, so you went to bed thinking it was a bad dream and in the morning things would be right with the world again. Then you woke up and found out it wasn’t. This leads to the first reason why Donald Trump needed to happen. Complacency.

I am calling myself out on this one. I am so incredibly guilty of this. My insidious complacency helped propel us into the new epoch we are about to enter. I signed petitions on climate change, animal abuse and the draconian actions taken by big pharma, but I never contacted the people involved or those who were in a position to make a difference. I didn’t bother to educate myself beyond what was given to me. I read some articles but never asked any questions. That is another reason.

We need to stop accepting things at face value. I am grateful to social media. Without it, I wouldn’t have met the motivating and inspirational people I’m fortunate to call friends. However, it’s also turned us into the boy who cried wolf, spreading myopic and often false information at an alarming rate. It’s also become a new playground for schadenfreude. You need to question and challenge everything, including this essay. We tend to classify something as being good or bad, right or wrong, based on our emotional response to it. We mistake fact for emotion. Simply agreeing with something because it elicits an emotional, subjective response in us does not mean it’s true. In other words, you have to also question yourself and your reaction to things. Maybe it’s because we are afraid to challenge ourselves, but educating yourself is always the right answer, even if it isn’t the answer you wanted.

Books. Yes, you knew this was going to come up. They are your best weapon and your best defense against being ignorant. Every time I see a statement that claims one must stop being a sheep and get out of the box, I cringe. First, I like sheep. They are adorable, and without them, we wouldn’t have ugly holiday sweaters. However, resorting to calling anyone who disagrees with you, without you having done your homework makes you exactly that. Sharing a post because you agree with it only adds you to the flock. What you put in your mind is just like what you put in your body. Some things are good and somethings will fucking kill you. If you feel strongly about something, read a book, not a Facebook post.

Inspiration comes from tragedy. If you look back at history, some of the greatest literature and art and music have come from artists trying to express themselves. The Romantics were rebelling against the church and the Industrial Revolution and created what are still some of the most sublime creations ever to come from the minds of men and women. The poets of WWII wrote poems that will never be equaled in anguish and desperation, and yet are so profound we can’t help but be drawn to them. There are writers from Africa, Russia, and the Middle East who are creating intellectual revolutions with their words and paintbrushes instead of their weapons. Donald Trump gives artists so many opportunities to express themselves that we may be on the verge of a new era of art, music, and literature. He may claim he is going to “drain the swamp, ” but it’s only so he can refill it with his own amphibians. Trump has given me a very deep pond to fish from. They may be ugly fish, but they are better than an empty hook.

What all this comes down to is that through our complacency, our emotional acceptance of things and our failure to ask questions and educate ourselves is what has led us here. T.S Eliot wrote, “There is certainly no purpose in remaining in the dark except long enough to clear from the mind the illusion of having ever been in the light.”
Through art and self-expression, we can make a difference. Protest with your words, your pictures, your music and your voice, but never lower yourself to Trump’s level. Michelle Obama, an elegant and intelligent woman recently said, “When they go low, we go high.” These are the words we need to live and create by. We cannot let fear destroy what we have worked so hard for.

America isn’t great, and Trump isn’t going to make it that way. He is mainly the wrecking ball that needed to come in so we can start over again. Instead of building walls, we will build pride, instead of minorities living in fear, they will live in love. Sometimes we have to hit bottom before we can build ourselves up and become stronger.
This is why Donald Trump needed to happen.

Everyone else is doing it…

Ok that’s lame I know, but really, that’s where I got the inspiration to start my own blog. One of the best things about being a writer is getting to explore the space around you. Notice I said space, not world. My space is part of the world. The more I write, the more I learn, and the more I expand my brain, the more I expand my space. In my space I keep the things that matter to me, primarily music and literature, and occasionally clutter it with the random musing…it’s my space I don’t have to keep it tidy. Maybe you’ll find something that matters to you as well, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll find something that makes you angry or makes you think I’m an idiot, (and you may not be wrong) but in the end if it made you think, then I’ve accomplished what I intended.