Thank you for your last two posts. I can't tell you how full it made me feel to have you and mom here for my concert, and to see in person and then to read in your writing how moved you were by the music. That's why I do it, I think, to create some kind of larger understanding that can envelop you in the experience of something singular, something that had never been said in that particular way. This is not to say I think I was doing something great or groundbreaking; I think any time we put pen to paper or endeavor to make music we are doing that. Sometimes it's harder to see than others, but making things seems to me to present the possibility for a new perspective, for opening a unique window, every time. I am glad you saw it that way.
You single out "Losses But Just"; I have been thinking of that piece a lot lately, the mantra that generated it and the idea of holding two worlds of feeling at once: sorry for your losses but just look at that sky. It has become a perfect representation of life before Nov 8. I feel sympathy for you and your difficulties, it says, but at the same time I can walk through the Arb in the morning sun and feel a sense of awe. You talked about privilege in your letter, too, and this for me is its height. I am not living under duress, so my sorrow can remain an abstraction; it dissolves when the skyline is particularly striking. There are many who could not sing this song without irony. Or if they did, and could, it would be a remarkable act of defiance and courage. For me, though, it's self-incriminating. It was at the time but without the teeth that the election have given it. I am dismantling the mantra now. Now I am just sorry for your losses.
There's so much more to say about all of this. I have been writing a lot, and have dusted off an old idea, too, one that initially ripped us apart but that I think eventually made this project gather steam. I feel a focus that I've not felt in a long time, and a desire to offer something up.
This is a preamble to a proper response, I suppose. But feel free to beat me to it. Now, more than ever, I feel like I need your voice. It is not an abstraction anymore. I really need us to understand each other, and I am committed to working on it until we hit something we can't move, or until we blast through.
It’s been too long for this response and as a defense I claim addling due to the aging process. So much has happened since the Fourth of July weekend with the water damage and loss of the kitchen, grandma falling, Bosco getting hurt, etc. One of the highlights of this whole summer was our trip to Northfield.
Your last letter was quite complex, needing time and unfettered thinking to adequately respond. I think that letter opens up a dialogue that takes us to the next level of political discourse not by choice but by need. This upcoming election has created a sense of desperation on both sides of the aisle, each side saying that the other candidate is not suited for the job, that candidate cannot possibly get elected for this reason or that, each side believing that the bad things about their candidate are lies but the bad things about the other is truth. Our choice in this election is either the experienced politician who is a liar and talks out of both sides of her mouth, or the doofus who has no business in politics or government. We are between a rock and a hard place.
I am reluctant to delve into the political discourse again. For me at my age it is often an exercise in futility. What is the discourse for? Is it to change someone else’s opinion? Is it an ego trip? Too much anger when two heads collide and both are sure their opinion must be right. I’m much happier listening to music and taking pictures. One thing we should remember is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion; their opinion is valid for them based on their ideas and views.
We are all a product of our experiences which never stop as we live our lives. The way we see and process these experiences makes us the individuals that we are. How we process and the conclusions that come about as a result is a product of our core beliefs. That is why I believe that given the same set of circumstances two different people can come up with two different conclusions. That is why given the same situation two people can have a different response and both believe theirs is the right response.
We are approaching Veteran’s Day and the blog you wrote last year around this time seemed to be the impetus for the current letter, you being on a plane and having the time to write. I would like to explain something to you that will help you understand some of the views I hold.
There were two times in my life where for an extended period of time I was in complete limbo, in a state of absolute terror, and both times involved my two sons.
The first was when you had that medical condition as a young teen that no one seemed to be able to diagnose. All those tests and hospital visits were draining on you. Your mom and I could see it and we were unable to do anything. I was afraid we would lose you and yet we managed to put one foot in front of the other, do what had to be done. When we went to the hospital for special surgery in Manhattan (can’t remember the name) the doctor had you on the examination table. There was something he saw that made him call for diagnostic machines being brought into the room asap and said you were not to be moved. Mom and I thought that this was a health crisis that was not going to end well. By the grace of God and a truly dedicated doctor you were diagnosed that night and the recovery process began. We emerged from our state of limbo and began breathing again.
The second time was with Luigi’s deployments. State of limbo, absolute terror, not knowing what the following day would bring. Dreading every time I turned into our street and praying I would not see any unfamiliar cars parked in front of our house. Waking at night at every sound from outside and every headlight that seemed to be turning into our driveway. The time that inspector from the town came to our door unannounced and all I could see through the stained glass pane was a khaki colored uniform. We were afraid we would lose your brother. We managed to put one foot in front of the other, do what had to be done. Again. It took some time but we were finally able to breathe again when those deployments ended.
I know that mom thinks I was wrong in letting Luigi join the Marines and you blamed yourself for not being able to change Luigi’s mind. You and your brother are adults. You are able to make your own decisions and abide by their results and consequences. We can’t let or not let you do the things you decide. We can respect your decisions and support you. To do otherwise would be to devalue your worth as human beings, adults, and sons, in my opinion.
That conversation with Luigi about his being politically frustrated in the past eight years that left you bewildered is telling as you pointed out. You realized how strong your faith is in your political beliefs. Justly so. Shouldn’t someone who has a different perspective be allowed their beliefs as well? Who is right? Who is wrong? Is there a right or wrong? Based on your knowledge you might decide yes, I am right. The other is wrong. There could be no mistake about it. Eight years of Bush, a complete disaster by every conceivable measure. Eight years of Obama, what, a new enlightenment? All depends on your point of view. I’ve lived with the consequences of both. What is really important to me, the most important, is my family. Everything else is secondary.
You also said that you hadn’t heard a first person account of the negative impact of the ACA. I can tell you that Luigi’s family deductible is $13,000 as of this year. Trisha’s is $4000. Luigi opted out of his company’s health plan and is covered under Trisha’s family plan. When Vivianna was born two and a half years ago their deductible was zero. This year with Victoria’s birth the deductible is $4000. Both were C sections, both involved a 5 day hospital stay. At a company information session at Luigi’s work they were told the reason for the hike was the ACA. Ditto at Trisha’s job site.
I was a little puzzled by your phrase “my life of privilege”. When I think of life of privilege I envision someone who is born into wealth and doesn’t need to lift a finger to be comfortable. You probably mean you had doors open to you that are not open to everyone and were able to take the opportunities as they came. I would say in your circumstance you made the opportunities happen, you worked tirelessly when the opportunities did occur. You and Christine both continue to work tirelessly so I wouldn’t exactly say you have a life or privilege.
I think I will stop at this point for now. This wasn’t meant as a letter of response point for point exactly or as a way of swaying someone else’s opinion. I see this as a continuation of our dialogue, an understanding of another person’s view.