Finding grace in the second verse

The weekend’s news was filled with the glitter and fluff of New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world. According to several reports, the criticism of Mariah Carey’s appearance Saturday night on national TV quickly dissolved into trashing Carey, her plea to the audience to sing, and barbs between Carey and the show’s producer over sound systems and lip-syncing gone bad.

I was reminded of the incredible grace that Patti Smith displayed, and received from the audience, when she performed on behalf of Bob Dylan’s recognition as the 2016 recipient for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Smith lost her way in Dylan’s winding second verse of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. When she realized she was repeating words, tried to find her place, and had to pause again, Smith told the audience,“I’m sorry, I’m so nervous.”

The audience, filled with dignitaries, responded with grace and kindness by offering applause. Smith regained her composure, the musicians helped her return to the song, and Smith finished the song.

The audience at Times Square on New Year’s Eve isn’t there to be somber and sit still. It is due professional respect, the same kind that Smith extended to her audience in Sweden last month, and that she received in return.

Patti Smith writes in The New Yorker on her Nobel Prize performance

When courage replaces fear

This New Year’s Eve, for the first time in 30 years, I will not be celebrating with my husband. Instead, I will be celebrating with steadfast girlfriends, some who stepped from fear to courage years ago, and some more recently.

The unexpected is part of our lives. It comes in the form of small things like finding there aren’t any eggs in the frig when you have started mixing the pancakes (from scratch). Or that the job isn’t the right fit. Or the marriage. Or that marriage isn’t an option because you love someone who also has two X chromosomes just like you.

Later today I will join three brilliant women (we will miss you Marie!) for a walk on the beach, dinner, lots of laughter, maybe some tears, and a toast to a New Year where all of us will have crossed from some fear of our own to courage.

I am so lucky.

Rural and Progressive

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