For many years I wrote down my firm New Year’s resolutions. I seldom kept my promises to myself to stand strong and not waver. My commitments became just suggestions. We struggle to change as we find comfort in familiar patterns in our lives, even when we know that we could do better, and even when not taking corrective action can cause us harm. We tend to focus on contentment and happiness..
Maybe that is why we say to friends: “Have a happy New Year” rather than “Have an improved New Year”.
We are starting a new decade. I have started a new decade eight times. I don’t recall the start or end of any of them. It is also a brand new year, and I have racked up a lot of them. January 1 has always come with a lot of talk about having a chance to change directions, reboot, recharge, or start fresh. We make some resolutions. We promise ourselves that we don’t have to remain a victim of our bad habits. We want to remake ourselves. By the second week of January I generally found that I didn’t mind being the same flawed creature that I was in December. In mid January I would misplace my list of resolutions. A few years back I stopped making resolutions altogether to prevent adding more layers of guilt and failure to my life. I could handle continuing to be overweight, rude, neglectful and all the other things my mother and father told me to work on. This changed two years ago when I had an event that asked me to take a look at the world around me with new wonder and purpose.
I was given a gift on September 13, 2017 when the medical staff at Harper Hospital got my heart and lungs restarted after I suffered anaphylactic shock caused by an allergic reaction to an injected drug that was used before hip surgery. I went into cardiac arrest and my body shut down completely. I remember a wash of complete hopelessness come over me, but no pain or fear. l was aware that life was passing out of me. Through a ton of good luck and good emergency medical help my heart and lungs were revived after five minutes, and I miraculously survived. Except for the initial pain from the pounding that I took during CPR, there was no lasting damage. It was a one time event.
One nurse who applied CPR vigorously was credited with bringing me back. She could have been on her lunch break, but she hung around to give a helping hand.
Since then I have had many timely encounters with strangers who possess a special gift of empathy and compassion. The physical side of this compassion is a healing touch.
There are people who have the ability to make one believe that everything will be alright, exactly when that feeling is most needed.
A GENUINE RESTART
I was given the gift of life, a start over, a free pass but I remained unsure what the pass was for or why I received it. I was handed this chance to look again at the world around me, I feel an obligation to take a really good look. I think I will be looking at the wonders around me more intently. My senses seem to have been intensified along with my gratitude.
Since my scary encounter with death I have become more aware that I am surrounded with caring and loving family and friends. They held me and created a warm place for me to land. There have been others.
STARTING OVER IN 2020
A fresh start comes with some responsibility. This year I have made one doable resolution for 2020. Be there for others. One on one. Kindness for kindness. Smile for smile. This means that I should try to heal when I see hurt and share my good fortune with others. I need to learn to:
Live and let live
THE NEXT YEAR IS HERE
We are at a time when our city and our country are searching for a direction to take with the stakes getting higher by the day, We hear a lot of grousing about leadership. We lose patience. We can resolve not to lose hope and to bring some light on the good things going on around us. We can make a resolution to add our little piece of sunshine for those around us to bask in.
The quality of our discussions is becoming more important.
I hope that I will learn to speak less and listen more. We all have concerns for what lies ahead for our children and grandchildren. We must help their voices to be heard. We must also have concerns for those whose future is less secure than ours.
I will try to structure this blog to be more of a conversation that will include those who have suffered losses yet shared what they had, those who have made promises and kept them, those who have observed kindness and acted kindly, those who have experienced epiphanies and remained humble, and those who have good ideas and are willing to share them.
I am looking forward to having conversations about the coming year and the positive events as they happen. I hope to talk to and photograph those who will be helping make Detroit a better place to live. Music will continue to show us the way. There is something special happening around us in Detroit, and the Dirty Dog will be celebrating the resurgence of live music in our city with innovative programs and adventurous menus.
WE WILL BE CARRYING OLD FRIENDSHIPS INTO THE NEW YEAR
I know a place where they don’t make lists. They don’t spend much time talking about changing. They aren’t perfect. The Dirty Dog Jazz Café risks blowing their reputation every night that they open up. They are content to bring jazz to the jazzless and good food, beverages and service to those in need of some comfort and joy.
It is a place to hear music where the musicians live with their eyes and ears open to all our trials, and when they play we know that we are not alone.
They have already made a commitment every year and every day of the year to:
Live and let live
The Dirty Dog is looking forward to being part of your New Year in 2020 and wishing that you may have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.
COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
January 8 – 11
MICHAEL ZAPORSKI & FUTURE VISIONS
Michael will merge his understanding of the rhythms of West Africa from his travels with the State Department with his knowledge of jazz he has learned playing with renowned jazz artists such as Jackie McLean, Frank Foster, Art Blakey, Pharaoh Sanders, and Donald Byrd.
Michael has always brought something new to the Dirty Dog. Michael won’t disappoint us.
Detroit based pianist Michael Zaporski
been performing and teaching both locally and internationally for over thirty years. He has been an Artist in Residence, performer and guest lecturer at the University of Dakar in Senegal West Africa, Albion College, Oakland University, Ste and other educational institutions both national and international. The most recent being a concert lecture tour in Poland and a concert lecture performance at the ISME conference in Glasgow Scotland.
Michael Zaporski creates astonishing music that merges American