Looking over my notes, there were a lot of things I thought this last “For Openers” of 2020 was going to be about.
Last week, for example, I had what I am tempted to call my “usual” chat with a cherished reader, who calls without fail after receiving the issue, but only after having had time to read it closely enough to make specific observations (occasionally trenchant), about its contents. But also always unfailingly encouraging, as well as (time after time over the years) offering suggestions (usually in the form of questions) for stories we should consider taking on.
This time the question was “Have you considered doing a story for readers like me (who need for various reasons to get tax receipts for our donations) who are willing and able, especially at a time like this, to support musical organizations (particularly those with a sense of social justice)? A story like that would help us figure who to give our money to.” A good idea indeed, I agreed.
Except that afterwards, I’m sorry to say, I found the idea irking me like a scratchy tag in a new shirt. Why? Because I am less sure than ever before that being able to issue tax receipts for donations is necessarily a reliable indicator of which organizations, in the music community and beyond, are the most at risk right now, or the most deserving of support. A bit like the way, back in March and April, when it came to deciding who should be eligible for governmental pandemic support, only T4 employment earnings were initially deemed proof of “real work” – no comfort to workers in the gig economy, or small businesses, where the dreamers usually pay themselves last anyway.
So, there’s a story there, but definitely a more nuanced one than at first glance. And yes, we’ll probably tackle it – but, um, not right now.
A few weeks before that, according to my notes, it was the “We’re all in this together” pep talks from our social, cultural and civic leaders that were seriously irking me to the point I was vowing to thunder about them here. What’s the “this” we’re supposedly all in? Not the “same boat,” that’s for sure, I scribbled. The same storm? Yes indeed, but in a whole range of craft, not all equally seaworthy and not all equally equipped to issue life jackets (or T4s) to those on board. But that one is not so simple either. After all, how do you define “seaworthy” when what is needed for the urgent task at hand is the alacrity to change course to avoid an iceberg?
So, yes, there’s a story there too, but definitely a more nuanced one than at first glance. So … um, not right now.
Instead, there’s this, from all of us at The WholeNote whose lives, like most of yours, are under (re)construction without benefit of blueprint: a crazy quilt of artistic initiative and endeavour and tenacity on the cusp between what was then and who knows what next? Still all doing the things we know how to do, but in ways we never needed to know till now; still figuring out ways to keep telling the stories we are driven to tell; hanging in until we can hang out. And maybe, just maybe, getting a teensy bit better, with each other’s help, at figuring out when to say “um, not right now” to the things we long for that just bloody well have to wait.
Right now “all in good time” is not the worst thing to wish on. Enjoy the read, and we’ll see you on the other side.