Songs for the Struggling Artist


“You Can’t Live in Fear.”
February 16, 2021, 12:35 am
Filed under: pandemic | Tags: , , , , ,

I overheard this old school New York guy talking with an old school Eastern European lady at my local bagel shop. He said to her, “You can’t live in fear,” after she expressed her concern about the virus. He was telling her how he went inside for a dinner party and she expressed her disapproval. She doesn’t see her friends. She doesn’t go out. What is he doing? He tells her she can’t live in fear.

Oh no? She can’t live in fear? Yes, she can. So can I.

I lived in fear for the last five years, actually. And I was nowhere near as at risk as many people. How about all those who had to go into sanctuary because of predatory ICE raids? How about those who had to worry about every knock on the door? Or those who could be shot at the whim of a police officer who would never be held accountable for your murder? You think those folks weren’t/aren’t living in fear? Believe me, you CAN live in fear. It sucks but you can do it. Fear can keep you alive in dangerous conditions. That is its prime benefit. You ignore it at your peril.

We are all perfectly capable of living in fear. And honestly, our feelings don’t matter. Whether or not we’re afraid, we should still stay home. Not because of fear but because it’s the way to beat the virus, or at least be one less possible factor in spreading it. It’s such an odd disconnect, this notion that somehow taking care of our fellow humans is living in fear.

A moment after this man told this woman that she couldn’t live in fear, he was telling her to never touch anything to do with electricity. I laughed to myself “Why shouldn’t she try and fix her electrics if she wants to?” I thought, ”She can’t live in fear!”

This guy wouldn’t see why I find his concern for her and electricity a little funny given his lack of concern for the virus. For him, electricity is real, it’s tangible, she could shock herself. But somehow, the virus is not real to him, even though it’s just as dangerous as playing with electricity.

To me, this guy going INDOORS to his friend’s apartment and having dinner parties, where they’re clearly unmasked, is just as risky as having a fraying wire in your electrics. It might not shock you. You might be fine. But it is risky. And not just to you.

Also – staying safe and protecting others is not, actually, living in fear. It’s living in kindness. It’s sacrificing one’s own desire for sociability and normalcy for the greater good. You think the rest of us don’t want to have dinner with our friends? That we’re just hunkering down at home because we’re fraidy cats? No, dude. No.

Personally, I want nothing more than to cozy up with some friends in some tiny apartment where we just eat and drink and sing and hug each other. I don’t really have a fear about doing that but I recognize that anyone involved in that dream dinner party is putting others at risk. To put it in terms you can understand, fella at the bagel shop, we’d be playing with electricity. When you play with electricity, you might get burned. Or you could set your place on fire and the fire spreads. So depending on the circumstances, your whole block could go up in flames.

Living in fear isn’t fun. No one wants to do it. But saying “You can’t live in fear” doesn’t justify taking risks with the lives of the people around you. This guy, who congratulated himself for not living in fear and going to parties, is now having a bagel, face to face, unmasked with a woman who has been taking every precaution. It’s her life he’s risked, really.

Somehow this phrase has become a kind of chant that charms the hearers into silence. All across the country people are congratulating themselves for not living in fear while their neighbors get rushed to the hospital and put on ventilators. You can live in fear. And for those who haven’t yet been afraid, you probably should for a little while. Or at least as long as it takes to actually start wearing masks and keeping your distance.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Help me live in less fear.

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



Do You Have Power?
August 31, 2020, 9:26 pm
Filed under: class | Tags: , , ,

The neighbors were walking through the neighborhood checking out the damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias. I asked them if they had power and they shook their heads. None of us had power.

And of course, I’m talking about electricity. I was staying at my friend’s place and the storm had brought down trees all over the area, knocking out power lines everywhere. Rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, the power grid was out for everyone.

There’s an idea that’s been making its way around the internet during these global pandemic times, about how we’re not all in the same boat, as some have said, but we are all in the same storm. How the storm impacts us depends greatly on what kind of boat we’re in to weather it. If we’re on David Geffen’s yacht, we’re probably okay. If we’re on a rubber raft, we’re in for some trouble. The week-long power outage on Long Island was a result of a literal storm and the metaphor applies to its aftermath. There were those with generators whose lights only dimmed for a moment as they switched from one power source to another and those for whom the loss of a fridge full of goods may have meant ruin. Your access to power could allow for a cramp in your lifestyle or a full-on shut down.

Our lives are so dependent on electricity and the ways we rely on it are legion. You discover how much when you are without it. It’s not just lights out at night. It’s hot water heaters powered by electric switches. It’s refrigerators and freezers. It’s your phone and your computer and your tablet that become bricks when you run out of batteries. The all-powerful internet is meaningless when you can’t turn anything on that will get you to it. You cannot grind your coffee beans. You cannot run the air conditioning. You can’t turn a fan on. When it’s hot, you’re going to stay hot.

The fact that we call electricity “power” strikes me with great force after a week without it. I walk around in my daily life with extraordinary power at my fingertips. I turn lights on, grind coffee, charge my devices, heat stuff up in a microwave. It is non-stop power. I don’t think of myself as powerful but I do have access to power. There are those that do not have that access.

There’s something about the literalness of this metaphor – something about those with access to power and those that do not have access – that lines up perfectly. When you have power, you take it for granted. I was cavalierly freezing food, running fans and letting my phone run out of battery because I knew I could just plug it in and charge it some more. I previously did not think I had power because I didn’t have artistic access or couldn’t get my art sold or produced or whatever. But I did have access to the sort of power that powers a modern life and until I lost it for a significant period of time, I took it entirely for granted.

When you have power, it is largely invisible to you and highly visible to the people without it. I was acutely aware of the neighbors’ generators – how loud they were, sure – but also how some would power even their driveway lights with them, while others just lit up their kitchens. The house I was in was entirely dark and became invisible to those WITH power at night.

This dynamic is at play with less literal power as well. The powerless can track the levels of power they do not have while the powerful don’t see power at all, they’re just using their juicer at breakfast or investing their money or taking that meeting with that VIP, no big deal.

I feel like this is a central difficultly when trying to make social change. The invisibility of the power structure to those that benefit from it is one of the largest obstacles to making it more fair.

I wonder if we need these occasional power outages to at least just remind us that our hold on power is not something to be taken for granted. It is not a given.

It makes me think of the charitable donations of solar powered lanterns. The ones that are given so students can study, so doctors can practice even when there is no light. They’re particularly useful in disasters. A little solar lamp is not a big dose of power but it is a start. The lights are powered by the power source we all have access to. Sometimes I think this is why the powers that be are so dead set against solar and wind power – because our current leaders are power hoarders. If we powered our electricity with wind and sun, they could not so easily control the power source.

I don’t think of myself as someone with power but I can use what little bits of electrical power I have to type into this machine that I plug into the wall where I get that electricity. And then I post onto the internet which I can access because of power and receive support through that same electric internet for my work. I will then, with the support I receive for this post, buy someone, without power, a light. I want to give power, not just take it. If you want to join me, here are the lights I’m going to buy when my electric powered payment comes in.

This post was brought to you by my electric patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me access some power?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

 

 

 




%d bloggers like this: