Living the long life

As I approach my 46th birthday, I find myself contemplating longevity on dog walks or my long runs. My father was buried on what would have been his 48th birthday,  only five days after my 18th birthday.

That single event in my life shattered any casual attitudes I had towards life. My father wouldn’t be there the day I got married, he would never hold my son and never witnessed my graduation from college and subsequent graduate degrees I hold.

I learned that life was something to be nurtured. Cherished. Protected.

Once when he was very little my son was worried about his Great-grandmother who was sick. I warned him that she was getting to the point where her body wasn’t as sharp as her mind. My son asked me to help him so that he would never die. I told him I couldn’t do that, but I promised to do everything in my power to help him stay healthy and strong so that he could live all of his dreams.

Kale. Run. Dance. Sleep. Bike. Swim. Music. Friends. Sunscreen. More kale.

This is the doctrine in our house that keeps us going. We will go kicking, screaming, but also laughing and singing on our way out.

On a less personal note, one of my favorite orchestras is slowly dying. The Minnesota Orchestra has been in one of the longest labor disputes in history for a major American orchestra. For eleven months the musicians have been locked out, forced to stay home with no pay and no health benefits. One of America’s top ten orchestras is slowly emptying as musicians are forced to find work elsewhere.

Management has ignored their proposals. Not only did they reject every one of the musician’s proposals, they are now ignoring a prominent and powerful mediator, former Senator George F. Mitchell.

From the facebook group “Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra”:

Eleven months ago, the MOA locked out the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. When our audience rose up and decried the lockout, the MOA locked out the audience. When major donors objected to to the lockout, the MOA locked out the donors. When thousands of Minnesotans wrote, called, and e-mailed the MOA to demand an end to the lockout, the MOA barricaded itself inside its offices and locked out the entire community.

And when one of the world’s most admired and respected diplomats agreed to step in and help to mediate, the MOA rejected his carefully considered plan for moving forward, locked the mediator they had selected out of the bargaining process, and went back to issuing disingenuous press releases intended to smear the musicians and our supporters.

On this Labor Day, after eleven months without salary or health insurance, the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra still stand united and strong. But we also stand with our audience, with our donors, and with all those thousands of Minnesotans as we call, one more time, for the MOA to accept the mediator’s proposal, end the lockout, and stop the ongoing destruction of one of our state’s (and our country’s) great arts institutions.

It was recently revealed that two years ago the Minnesota Board deliberately purchased all domain names entitled “Save Our Orchestra” or variations on that theme. They also have ridiculed the power of blogs, prompting conductor William Eddins to call for a day of blogging, called “Labor Day Madness,” to draw attention to the dispute. His call to action is short but concise:

Support your musicians. Go to concerts. Write to the boards,–especially the Minnesota Orchestra board. Orchestras are run like businesses now, often financing expensive renovations to concert halls while simultaneously demanding that musicians take enormous pay cuts. Live music depends on YOU, our audiences. You might feel the thrill of connecting to a particular performer on stage, or feel the floor vibrate as the music swells. You don’t have to understand it, or be educated. We will move you, we will give to you, if you nurture us and help us live long lives as professional musicians.

Life. Music. Dance. And leafy greens. Life without art would be barren and soul-less. Let musicians into your life; it will help you live the long life you deserve!


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