I can hardly believe it’s been a year since the people of Standing Rock out in the Dakotas stood up, stood for, stood by the water, the most precious thing on this Mother Earth. Water is the deal, and without it, no living thing can exist. So why are so many so blind?
Flying home yesterday, I left Chicago, sleeping for a time, my head against the window. When I awakened, we were over the Dakotas, and my eyes and heart feasted upon the landscape. Some folks think it is barren and feel uneasy in its spaciousness. I am sure the man who occupies the People’s House has never been there, and sees no problem running oil pipelines through land that is living and sacred to so many. The water there and its accompanying green is precious to the peoples there, as it is to so many people around the Earth. Many of these people came to Standing Rock to stand with the water protectors. Many stood where they were, sending prayers and money and support to the people there.
I am so proud of my city, Seattle, whose City Council just named Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. There are other sides to this story of discovery, things that were set in motion and disturbed forever. Discovery is like that. Columbus Day has become a celebration of Italian pride, and while I get that on some level, I feel strongly that this day needs to be seen in all its light. Every Columbus Day for years now, I’ve played two songs here in PTown,” Postcards”, and “Wounded Knee”. Postcards revisits and re-imagines his “discovery” and provides a what-if moment. What if his heart turned toward Paradise and he ordered the ships to go home without him, burned the maps so no one would know this place existed, and grew old there, lying peacefully in the sun and sand. “Wounded Knee” tells us what happened over and over as Manifest Destiny rolled over the people who lived here.
Columbus had wanted to sail east to find Japan and all its fabled riches, but was unable to get the funding for his venture. After hanging around the Spanish court forever, he finally got enough money for three small wooden ships, and sailors to man them. Armed with Portuguese maps, they sailed to the east and bumped into an island where lived the Taino people. The history of these indigenous people nearly disappears with this contact. Violence and disease pretty well took them from their home where they had lived until Columbus came. This moment in history is a hinge upon which swings the lives of so many. Discovery is like this. Claims are made that land has been “discovered”, while all along, people are already there, but people who had a different land ethic. This ethic said the land owned them, not the other way around. This ethic fell beneath the driving wheel of the landless Europeans who set out to take land for themselves, and take it they did, claiming it in the name of one country or another. This day known as Columbus Day, could now be given a new name, one that honors a woefully uncelebrated narrative…the other side, the Indigenous Peoples of this continent, the islands in between, South and Central America, Mexico, Tibet, Russia…the list goes on and on. It’s time, I think. Time to honor the rest of the story.
As the New Year turned, I was fortunate enough to begin this next life-voyage on a beautiful sailing ship in the Caribbean. This was the 5th in a series of Olivia's 40th Anniversary trips, beginning last year and into this year with 3 cruises and 2 resorts.
I was so honored to be a part of it. I've always been honored to play a part in this Olivia adventure, beginning with the birth of a women's record company. The talent and strength and friendships that filled these trips were totally indicative of the thing itself and how women can be and, in fact, are.
I lead a musician's life – which I love! But truly in this way, on these Olivia trips, I've been able to travel, and see some of this amazing world upon which we live. I applaud all the work that goes into making these trips safe and joyous for women.
Home in Seattle, rehearsing today, getting ready for a gig this coming weekend up in Victoria, BC. I'm going to take the Victoria Clipper, something I've always wanted to do, and in three hours, I'll arrive in Victoria for the gig that evening. God, but I love my job! For two hours I am on stage, pouring my heart out and getting such beautiful response. Whatever I've poured forth is returned two-fold, and thus, there is more in the chamber, more to rain down in evenings to come. It's a relationship, a conversation between my Self and the listeners.
And if I sing it right, on any night, miracles can happen.
Four years ago, I wrote a Signpost, and then stepped away from my public journaling for a moment. My website is being re-born, so it seems seemly to send you a signpost while standing on a bridge between that time and this.
The idea of a good bridge is to take us from one familiar place to another, crossing a place of difference – a chasm, a piece of chaos that changed us, birth, death, loss, some piece of beauty that awakened us in some way – arriving finally on the other side, changed, yet still within the continuum of the familiar.
Outside the window, the sun still shines. The leaves on the red maples are beginning to turn, and some to fall. The joggers are wearing more layers, and oatmeal feels just about right for breakfast. It's Autumn. In a day or two, I head to Provincetown, MA for my annual 10-day run at the Post Office Cabaret. It's Women's Week in Provincetown...always busy, the never-ending tribe of comediennes roaming the town, a few musicians here and there, some drama of some sort (of course), either on stage or in the theater of relationships. With the economy in choke-hold mode, it's hard to say if women will choose to come at all. Here's hoping! It so will help the local women survive through the winter-to-come, and I venture to say that the various performances around town will help all of us survive yet another season. We need to support our artists, our culture, our sisters.
Sitting in my friend's backyard in Oakland, just having seen a gorgeous filly run a mile and 1/2 to win the Belmont Stakes...remembering sitting in a car with my friend Susan, up in the Big Horn Mountains over 30 years ago, listening to a horse race over the radio, the day a filly ran and fell...a filly named Ruffian. We just burst into tears on that long-ago day, and my girlfriend and I just burst into tears on this day, too. Today... she won; Rags To Riches in the winner's circle, and it set us thinking about the power of the Woman in this lonely race we human beings run.