The Easter Story is one of rebirth. It reflects the fact that life, itself, is a series of rebirths.
We learned, while traveling through Egypt, that each night, for the ancient ones, it was like the death of the sun. No promise that it would come back the next day, because it was killed. Like maybe how a pet feels when its human walks out of the house and closes the door.
A Methodist minister friend of mine is writing a different “This is a new day” greeting every morning for a year.
It’s also an element of everything that I write. It's what New World Waking is all about.
I told the very legendarily depressive (and much beloved) L.A. songwriter, D. Whitney Quinn, about my habit of looking for the silver lining in the cloud. He quipped back, “I find the cloud in every silver lining.”
Even this moment, as I prepare to go to Portland, as I face this 60th year on earth, I find myself changing and morphing, and growing and learning, and asking myself what’s next?. It’s medicine I prescribe for myself because that fury for living, for staying alive, reaches down into you, right at the cellular level, and creates health. That's a scientific fact.
This Sunday we’re going to perform a more formal arrangement of “My Rising Up,” from New World Waking. But instead the choir improvising the back-up harmony, which is great fun, but sometimes messy, Mark Janas and I found this arrangement we did together back when I first started learning under him. I remember not singing it well, at the time because Mark played and, without my piano, I felt a little lost.
This time, he put me at the piano. Maybe I'll get it right.
Mark, with his classical training, brings to these arrangements, a little more sophistication. Something a little more concrete than merely “Ya’ll sing!” It’s also an arrangement that other choirs can perform. Not good to send a folded up lead sheet written on a napkin to a choir. “Here’s the chord symbols and the words! Good luck, kids!”
Rebirth also means wanting to staying alive.
One of the things my doctors have done is let me know that my strict compliance practice -- doing every shot, taking every pill at the right time of day, some on food; some not on food, etc. -- is what excites them about treating me.
I can only imagine what it must be like to have a doctor who’s having to watch patients get worse or die because they won’t take their medication or eat right. What can the doctor do, in that case, but either scold them or just shrug and feel sad?
I'm a chemistry experiment under controlled conditions!
But it's because no matter how I'm feeling, I always have one eye on the pill tray and one eye on the clock. I am choosing to live, and to do it with as much energy as I can manufacture.
From “When You Care,”
You can live every day
You can die every day
You can die every day
Rebirth is not about waking and feeling different.
Rebirth is about waking up and doing different. Or, differently. Whatever.
Feelings come and go. Feelings aren't fact. What you say, do and eat. Those things are fact.
And whether you’re secular or religious or an atheist, or somewhere in between, the principle is still there, a universal truth. That I am what I do. And that every single day, I make that choice to live or die.
I will discover “what’s next?” for me as it’s happening.
BTW, I’m coming along very well on my Shakespeare. I’ve been practicing the famous “Tell sad stories of the death of kings” speech from Richard II on Jim. He just keeps turning the TV up louder.