Learnin’ the Blues

August 11, 2018
You may know this old song:
“That’s the beginning – just one of the clues –
You’ve had your first lesson –  in learnin’ the blues.”
Sometimes the clues are tragically hard to miss.  A friend has published a paper: “Houston After Harvey: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be.”
The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey approaches.  Resilient as we are, the thousand-year storm etched on us a terrible new verse of the blues. It will always be with us, solidarity with the ones who inscribed their arms with their social security numbers as the waters rose.  No wonder that now, when a hard rain falls, people incline to fear.
Meanwhile, we live and love our precious lives.  The hope is that wisdom will accumulate, causing “the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.”
Wisdom:  The price of life is hazard.   The price of loving is losing.  The price of a future is learning from the past.  If we can view our inevitable wounds as a growing edge for wisdom, think how much deeper and truer our lives will be.  Think how denial and anxious avoidance of the unpleasant and inconvenient will fall away, in favor of true joy.  One true joy is having meaningful, creative work to do. My true-blue friend in Houston is working.  So are many. Wounded by what has happened, we take appropriate solace and sabbath, and we press forward.
“You’ve had your first lesson / in learnin’ the blues.”  I looked up the meaning of the color blue.  Blue speaks of good things—sky and sea, open spaces, spirit, intuition, depth, loyalty, sincerity.  The psychology of color claims that blue has a restful effect—calming and cooling.  Too much blue, though, can cause feelings of melancholy, negativity, sadness.  The art is finding the balance!  Balance, with an aim:  Clarissa Pinkola Estes asserts that “any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.”
A small, calm thing.  Perhaps the naming of a car?  I’m thinking of a recent purchase I’m pleased to call “Ruby.”  I am grateful for the means to have her, the skill to drive her.  As you know, ruby is a gemstone of radiant red, tempered with a measure of blue.  That might not seem much of a selling point for a paint color. But I like it!