It goes without saying that in times of trouble like these we all need the support Paul McCartney wrote of in the Beatles’ 1968 wonderfully calming ballad, “Let it Be.” The lulling lyrics include the intro: “When I find myself in times of trouble/Mother Mary comes to me/Speaking words of wisdom, let it be/And in my hour of darkness/She is standing right in front of me/Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”
According to Paul, even though the world interpreted “Mother Mary” as Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, the song’s Mary was his own mother, Mary Mohin McCartney, who passed away when he was just 14. The song is about a dream Paul had 10 years later in which his mother visited him during a time when Paul’s personal life was troubled.
As we all well know, life is about long stretches of calm waters interspersed with suddenly turbulent ones. It is a journey where we at times need what Simon & Garfunkel called “a bridge over troubled waters,” the title of their signature 1970 song, “A Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” which, sadly, was their final song as a duo. To give credit where credit is due, Paul Simon said the title lyric was inspired by Claude Jeter’s line, “I’ll be your bridge over deep water if you trust me,” which Jeter sang with his group the Swan Silvertones in their 1958 gospel song, “Mary Don’t You Weep.” Simon just didn’t recognize Jeter for the inspired lyric, however, he handed him a very substantial check. To provide further credit, our research found that “Mary Don’t You Weep” is an African American spiritual originating before the Civil War and is thus what historians classify as a “slave song.” Moreover, as one of America’s most important “Negro Spirituals,” the song contains coded messages of hope and resistance for those enslaved.
In these suddenly stormy times when many of us are living with the fear of the viral unknown while a few are still in denial or sulking in the “why me” sorrow over losing sports, public gatherings and the inconveniences of postponements, cancellations, closures and bare shelves, we should all remember Helen Keller’s inspirational quote, “I cried when I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.”
Even though the above mentioned dark clouds are affecting people to the very core of their livelihoods, those K-12 and college/tech school people who have seen their sports, studies, activities and social lives disappear like smoke in the wind also have a genuine right to be disappointed. Although it is difficult for them to realize now, hopefully they will someday find solace in what author J.K. Rowling once said about being abjectly down, “Rock bottom eventually became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
A good example of the above would be the plight of noted Minnesota chef, cook and travel personality Andrew Zimmern. Andrew, who grew up in New York City, almost had his promising culinary career and life end when he fell victim to the deadly grasp of drugs and alcohol abuse. Fortunately, 28 years ago, near the nethermost depths of his downward spiral, he was intervened by family and friends and in a drug and alcohol haze was flown with some of them to the Twin Cities Hazelden Betty Ford Center. Reflecting back, Andrew said, “I am grateful to have my life back, for the friends and family who never gave up on me and for a God who was there when I was ready to find Him. I am grateful for so much that every day, one day at a time, is Thanksgiving.”
As an aside, several years ago, Dimich Outdoors had the privilege of sitting down with Andrew for a lengthy interview that resulted in a feature magazine article. While talking with Mr. Zimmern in his modest St. Louis Park office, it became quite apparent he was not your typical showy television star. Despite being perhaps the pre-eminent celebrity on Travel Channel with his “Bizarre Foods” and spin-off shows, and in light of his simple “Twelve Step” approach to life and love of people, especially those in need, Andrew’s message of hope, faith and helping others as well as taking care of the “inner you” was as enlightening as American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s (1892-1971) prayer titled, “The Serenity Prayer.” Adopted by the life-saving group, Alcoholics Anonymous, the “Prayer” goes like this: “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change/the courage to change the things we can/and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Because Andrew acknowledges how important Minnesota’s outdoor heritage is, it is also imperative for those of us fortunate to live here in the great “North Star State” to get on that natural bridge over troubled water and take in our fresh spring air where crowds are few and hopefully the dreaded virus does not tread.
Whether ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, jogging, taking walks, enjoying a campfire or just watching movies, reading, listening to music, talking or cooking, always remember Dr. Seuss’ advice from “The Lorax,” “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” That said, it’s up to us to be careful.
Additionally, when you hear people grumble about no sports on television or eliminating larger get-togethers, remind them of the life stories you have heard from the Greatest Generation and their offspring who lived through The Great Depression, WWII, the Korean and Vietnam wars. Explain how the only live sports coverage before television was on the radio, where a Joe Louis championship fight or the World Series came to life through the word wizardry of the announcers. Talk about how they marveled at the modern wonders of store-bought sliced bread, air-conditioned movie theaters and restaurants with creamy malts and hot beef or pork sandwiches with mashed potatoes slathered in a thick rich gravy. And when those of the younger generations quickly mention “a gravy train with biscuit wheels” (from character Ernie MacCracken in the 1996 comedy, “Kingpin”), just smile and nod politely as though you understand the reference.
Not to be glib in light of the current pandemic threat, but as an attempt to lighten the load with a bit of levity, we will leave you with the old maxim, “Sometimes you get chicken; sometimes you get the feathers,” which means life features success and failure. Or, as the “Stranger Cowboy” tells “The Dude” at the end of “The Big Lebowski,” “Sometimes you eat the bar; sometimes the bar eats you.” To which we would add, remember that even though Charles Dickens opened his 1859 classic novel of survival, “A Tale of Two Cities,” with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,” he followed this with, “it was the spring of hope.”
Be vigilant, be united, help those in need, keep yourself and others safe and remember, these unsettled times too shall pass.
Nik and Rod Dimich are on Ray’s Sport & Marines’ pro staff and Rod is a pro-staffer for L&M Supply. To contact Dimich Outdoors, please email: email@example.com or call 218.259.4051. Kristin Dimich contributes to this column.