Just about every day at lunch time, I try to take a walk. Usually, I go for 30 to 40 minutes.
Tuesday, I walked for about 75 minutes, giving me enough time to listen to The Rising, the 2002 album by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. It has been a favorite ever since I first heard it, but I hadn’t listened to the entire album in a long time. It has been in the news this week because of the new video of the title track produced for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
At this time, please allow me one political comment: When The Boss is on your side, it’s unlikely the Republican National Convention will top him with a performance by Lee Greenwood or any other agreeable has-been.
Back to The Rising, which Springsteen released in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Plenty of artists wrote and recorded songs during this period. The Rising has always been my favorite. “The album predominantly centers upon themes of relationship struggles, existential crisis and social uplift,” according to Wikipedia.
During the pandemic in which we now find ourselves, it seems likely many of us have been struggling with all kinds of crisis — existential and otherwise. After all, some 170,000 Americans have died this year because of COVID-19 and 30 million are unemployed. So it’s understandable why the people around Joe Biden, who last night received the Democratic presidential nomination, focused on The Rising‘s title track.
But Waitin’ On A Sunny Day really put the spring in my step during Tuesday’s lunchtime walk. It was written before 9-11 and not released on an album until The Rising. In his book The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen, Jeffrey Symynkywicz calls the song as a reflection of the simpler world prior to September 11.
I’m waitin’, waitin’ on a sunny day,
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin’ on a sunny day.
It seems like that may describe how many people feel now, too. For me, Tuesday was that day. At least for 75 minutes. The temperature was perfect. The day was beautiful. Great music blared in my earbuds. I am not one of the 30 million Americans who are out of work. No one in my immediate family has COVID-19. My friends who have had it have all pulled through what they describe as a horrible experience. Because of a severe windstorm, I have not lived for more than the past week without electricity and running water as have thousands of other Iowans in Cedar Rapids and elsewhere.
This, right here, is maybe the biggest inconvenience in my life these days. Sure, she makes it difficult to type once in awhile, but she purrs and that’s kinda nice. I can’t complain. In fact, I spent most of Tuesday’s walk giving thanks for the many ways I have been blessed.
But it’s so easy to hyper focus on everything else. COVID-19 is scary. The overall lack of leadership and abundance of corruption in this country is disappointing. Our unwillingness to listen to others and to instead make sweeping generalizations about them, placing blame entirely on one group or the other — all of it makes me pessimistic about the future. I don’t like President Trump and would never vote for him. But I have to remind myself that doesn’t mean that everyone who voted for him — or will vote for him — is inherently bad. It just means we disagree the same way you might disagree with an athlete who kneels when the national anthem is played. Kneeling doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to destroy everything that is American. It just means he has a viewpoint that differs from yours.
OK, that’s enough. It’s time to move away again for today from what I don’t like and instead focus on the things that will make this another sunny day. I hope your days are sunnier, too.