A Year And A Day: “The Hill We [Still] Climb”

Gonna use parts of this one over the next several weeks (and beyond) — what an amazing piece with so many insights — but to start let’s hear the whole thing, a year and a day since Ms. Amanda Gorman shared this vision with the world…

and set the tone for the way forward, forward anew…

She said her mantra to herself as she does before every reading,

“I am the daughter of Black writers. We’re descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and they changed the world. They call me.”

And then she began…

“When the day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we’ve made,
that is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb.
If only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert,
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation,
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain,
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy,
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.
We will rise from the windswept northeast,
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Lyrics Post: “Surface Pressure”

Another gem from Encanto. My youngest daughter relates to this character, enjoys talking about her story…

“Surface Pressure”
(from “Encanto” soundtrack)

[Luisa:]
I’m the strong one, I’m not nervous
I’m as tough as the crust of the earth is
I move mountains, I move churches
And I glow, ’cause I know what my worth is
I don’t ask how hard the work is
Got a rough, indestructible surface
Diamonds and platinum, I find ’em, I flatten ’em
I take what I’m handed, I break what’s demanded, but

Under the surface
I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus
Under the surface
Was Hercules ever like, “Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus”?
Under the surface
I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service
A flaw or a crack, the straw in the stack
That breaks the camel’s back
What breaks the camel’s back? It’s

Pressure like a drip, drip, drip, that’ll never stop, woah-oh
Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister, your sister’s older
Give her all the heavy things we can’t shoulder
Who am I if I can’t run with the ball?
If I fall to
Pressure like a grip, grip, grip, and it won’t let go, woah-oh
Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister, your sister’s stronger
See if she can hang on a little longer
Who am I if I can’t carry it all?
If I falter

Under the surface
I hide my nerves and it worsens, I worry somethin’ is gonna hurt us
Under the surface
The ship doesn’t swerve, has it heard how big the iceberg is?
Under the surface
I think about my purpose, can I somehow preserve this?
Line up the dominoes, a light wind blows
You try to stop it topplin’, but on and on it goes

But wait, if I could shake, the crushing weight
Of expectations, would that free some room up for joy
Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?
Instead, we measure this growing pressure
Keeps growing, keep going, ’cause all we know is

Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, woah-oh
Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt and
See if she can handle every family burden
Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks
No mistakes, just
Pressure like a grip, grip, grip, and it won’t let go, woah-oh
Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, woah-oh-oh-oh
Give it to your sister and never wonder
If the same pressure would’ve pulled you under
Who am I if I don’t have what it takes?
No cracks, no breaks
No mistakes!
No pressure!

Writer: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda has revealed that “Surface Pressure” (Luisa’s song) was inspired by his older sister and serves as a love letter and apology to her. He explained to Variety, “I’m the baby of the family. I have a sister who’s six years older, and she got a raw deal. […] I watched my sister deal with the pressure of being the oldest and carrying burdens I never had to carry. I remember my parents woke my sister up to put together a He-Man playset for Christmas before I woke up. They wanted it to be fully assembled when I woke up on Christmas morning. I put all of that angst and all of those moments into Luisa.”

Redux: Motion Is Lotion

Get UP, get going, the trick is in the steps, the movement, the motion.

Movement like lotion to dry skin, the body soaks it up, the body needs it,

Move to start the day, then all day,

More to say on the mind – body,

But an example might be nice too,

What’s a good day of motion?

All day, plenty of steps spread out through the day, some stairs too.

Have had a couple motion trackers in my day, current one from FitBit, does me right.

Feel the motion, feel the boost, feel GOOD.

Elevate the Voices That Need To Be Heard

I came across this jazz musician and this album yesterday, listening to our local Jazz radio station, KCSM, in the San Francisco Bay Area. In lead up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they were playing various artists with particular undertones and themes around Civil Rights, Equality, etc.

The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons was one of the albums they featured, a 2020 edition by Jazz bassist Christian McBride. I love the basic concept of this album, particularly elevating and providing “sonic portraits of such black civil icons as Rosa ParksMalcolm XMartin Luther King Jr.Muhammad Ali, and Barack Obama narrated by the voices of Sonia SanchezVondie Curtis-Hall, Dion Graham, and Wendell Pierce.”

And so to elevate those voices as well, I offer a few tidbits I found from each of those icons noted above — and then do what we white folks need to do now, long past due: elevate the voices of those who deserve more from our American society, when will it be that we will finally listen? Let’s move in that direction…

Rosa Parks: ““You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free…so other people would also be free.” “I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.”

Malcolm X: ““I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

Muhammad Ali: ““He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”.

Martin Luther King Jr.: “…I would rather have a bruised and broken body than a bruised and broken soul…” and this, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Barack Obama: “another tradition to politics, a tradition (of politics) that stretched from the days of the country’s founding to the glory of the civil rights movement, a tradition based on the simple idea that we have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and that if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done.”

And so, listen to the following clip from youtube about this album, the inspiration therein…

and then you can read more via the wikipedia post below too.

And then what say you, we make some positive change for those who need it most —

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Movement_Revisited

Faith & Forward

Why in this space, why in this place,

Every day, mostly, begins with a teaspoon of dread,

Bitter taste, I expect, frozen, paused, not wanting to begin, eyes closed tight,

Heart, mind, racing, images flash through in quick secession,

How to get through, how to go through these moments to begin the day?

Especially when I’m alone, it’s hard to see in those moments, the path, where my steps will lead,

It’s in these moments that I resolve to have faith, but in what? I call it God, pray to a god, to help me take those steps,

“…Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others…”

First steps of the day the hardest, taking that first sip the most difficult, even fleeting sleep fads quickly away,

All the same I resolve with just a teaspoon of faith, to go forward, forward,

Resolve to do at least a little, at least my best, only my best I can do,

Words coming, spilling through me,

Resolve to do and share and be me,

Just me, just for the next hour even, just for another day, once again I find,

A little faith, and I go forward, again.

Discovering Paulina

I’d seen her in Sports Illustrated editions during her hay-day, knew she was from the Czech Republic originally, but never knew anything about her really, never heard her interviewed.

What a clear and strong voice she has! She turned plenty of heads as a supermodel, but I think her words and perspective can have a positive and lasting effect, far greater…

Thanks. Paulina, fun discovering you, and glad to find you~

All Work Valued

This is a must for optimum, long-term value and operation of an organization.

Critical, tactical work. Keeping the production going forward.

Deep work. The thinkers who design and decide the paths of the business.

All skilled labor. All who bring their unique abilities to bear to further the objectives and goals of the organization.

All labor valued, those who keep the organization together as it churns along.

All valued.

Lyrics Post: “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”

This one, plugged in last minute for this week…great song I’ve known all my life it seems…

and in memory of ol’ Zona, one of our dogs, who made her final exit to the Rainbow Bridge today. She was just shy of 13 years old. She had a good life, and it was time for sure.

Our family, and especially her K9 sister Mia will miss her, but we know she’s in a better place now…

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Louis Armstrong, and The Sy Oliver Choir, …

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home,

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home

If you get there before I do
Coming for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I’m coming too
Coming for to carry me home,

I’m sometimes up and sometimes down
Coming for to carry me home
But still my soul feels heavenly bound
Coming for to carry me home,

the brightest day that I can say
Coming for to carry me home
When Jesus washed my sins away
Coming for to carry me home