“Who knows where the time goes?” Judy Collins sings.
wish I knew. Sometimes the days and weeks float by uneventfully.
Other times everything seems to happen at once, and our personal
and public lives are forever altered.
Last week I heard Black Panther Bobby Seale speak at an event
sponsored by Penumbra Theatre, I witnessed retired environmental
lawyer Chuck Dayton present The Friends of the Boundary Waters’
Conservation Award to former congressman and mayor Don Fraser, I
heard singers Pieta Brown and Iris Dement perform at the Cedar
Cultural Center, my son defended his thesis for his master’s in
counseling and psychology services, I completed an author’s review
for a new edition of a book I published 16 years ago, my Colorado
grandson turned 11 months old, and Prince died – all in the space
of seven days.
also presented a workshop to some writers, some in Minneapolis,
others patched in via Polycom from around the U.S. and from
Warsaw, Poland. We talked about how our words convey more than
meaning. Our words also convey who we are as people – our values,
our character, how we treat our team members as managers, how we
relate to people who hold views that differ from our own.
As I write these words now I’m listening to (and peeking at) a
YouTube video of Joni Mitchell singing “The Magdalene Laundries”
at the May 1994 Aionoshi Festival in Nara, Japan, staged at
Todaiji, an eighth-century Buddhist temple.
“In Ireland up until 1970,” Mitchell said about her song, “women
who were considered fallen women were incarcerated to scrub the
clothes. Modern times eliminated all of this, but the story stands
as a reminder of intolerance and misunderstanding.”
And just like that, with a few clicks, I have her music. I have
her words. I have her beautiful mind.
I’m amazed at all the things that connect and divide us, not just
across space but also across time. In the first century B.C. Roman
statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero declared, “Ask not what
your country can do for you, but what you can do for your
country.” In the 1916 Republican National Convention President
Warren Harding used a similar line, as did President John Kennedy
in his 1961 inaugural address. As I was working on my author’s
review I came across my explanation of Aristotle’s use of
antimetabole (Word doesn’t like that word), a rhetorical scheme
using antithesis, “juxtaposing and balancing contrasting ideas,”
while repeating “certain words in reverse grammatical order.”
When I google “Purple Rain,” I come across this poignantly
beautiful antithetical sequence: “I never meant to cause you any
sorrow/I never meant to cause you any pain/I only wanted one time
to see you laughing/I only wanted to see you laughing in the
And Justin Timberlake’s moving tribute on Instagram: “We should
all turn away from [overwhelming grief] and HONOR this musician
who changed all of our lives, our perspectives, our feeling, our
wonder if Timberlake knowingly used asyndeton, another classical