As you may have noticed, it has been eerily quiet here on the blog. I have been adrift without inspiration for a spell. And unlike others who push themselves to write until inspiration comes, I can only wait like a traveler on the platform who just missed the last train home. So I waited.
The election came and went and my elusive inspiration was replaced with simmering disillusionment. The past 8 years I have not agreed with everything the Obama administration has done, but overall I felt hope that we were moving in the right direction.
The economy was beginning to turn around, more and more people had health care, my LGBTQ brothers and sisters were free to marry if they chose to and barriers were being broken down for women in many areas.
And then we elected Trump. My inspiration to write seemed to be drowned in an overwhelming sense that if I just ignored it and tried to move on I would wake up and it would be a dream. I mean, hopefully, Trump would move to the middle now that he had been elected like everyone was saying. Surely, he didn’t really mean all those things he said. Hey, a girl can dream.
Then came the inauguration and the women’s march. I thought I would find inspiration somewhere marching with my daughter and friends among the banners, camaraderie, and history of it all. Nope. Still waiting.
And then it happened. Road trip. Where all the best inspiration happens. (At least for me). There just seems to be something about the open road, a cold drink, a snack and hundreds of miles of asphalt that just seems to hold a bit of magic.
On this trip, I took along a companion. Bruce Springsteen personally read me his new book Born to Run. [So it was on Audible. Let me pretend, okay?]
Listen, I don’t care if you are a fan of Bruce or not, this book is one of the best I have read. It is raw and honest, transcendent and earthy all at the same time. But don’t take my word of it. Download it and let the Boss show you the light. After that get yourself to one of his live shows. He has made more than one convert at his live shows.
So here I am, with Bruce headed south toward Galveston and out of nowhere like a lightning storm in the desert– inspiration!
Bruce. Motherhood. Dreams. Walls.
In the book, he talks about the first time he and the E Street Band played in Berlin and saw the wall. He talked about how it was an affront to humanity and how it changed them forever. The next time they went back was 1988. In his article When Bruce Springsteen Helped Destroy the Berlin Wall, Greg Mitchell writes:
More than 200,000 showed up, twice what Dylan had attracted. Springsteen opened, pointedly, with “Badlands,” but the indisputable highlight was his cover of “Chimes of Freedom,” a Dylan tune that Dylan himself had overlooked. The show, which in typical Springsteen style lasted nearly four hours, was beamed to millions of East Germans via state television. Many middle-aged Germans I interviewed for my book fondly recalled attending the performance or watching it on TV. “It was a nail in the coffin for East Germany,” one fan told theGuardian years later.
In Born to Run, Springsteen recounts a previous visit to East Berlin with bandmate Steve Van Zandt. “You could feel the boot,” he recalls. The wall, in Springsteen’s view, seemed almost “pornographic.” The experience helped shock the then-apolitical Van Zandt into decades of activism. “The power of the wall that split the world in two, its blunt, ugly, mesmerizing realness, couldn’t be underestimated,” Springsteen writes. “It was an offense to humanity.”
Bruce goes on to say in the book that some even came with hand-made American flags. America and our music represented all that was beautiful–freedom, and acceptance, and room for all.
Right then I turned off the book and I cried. I cried and I yelled. At Trump. All alone in my car. Damn you. Damn you and your hate. Damn you and your wall. How could you turn my country — a beacon of hope to the world into such a small and ugly place? I realized that we have become, this week, the builders of the next fucking wall.
We are the ones who keep people out. We are now the ones who build the walls. The ones who revoke the green cards. The ones who in the name of freedom curtail liberty.The ones who punish the innocent in the name of safety. I am ashamed.
Fuck that. Fuck that wall and all it stands for.
Bring back my country. Bring back the people we used to be who stood behind Reagan and said, “tear down this wall”. And then they did. And then we all did.
Years from now, if we actually build this affront to humanity, people will tell stories like Springsteen’s about US. How incredibly, indescribably sad.
How incredibly, indescribably sad.