Not about movies today.
Politics has been very much on everyone’s mind; here at Chez Wadswords as well. Even though I have been mostly writing about movies. In fact, movies have become a sort of go-to respite for me – I never know what else to say about zero-tolerance policies against families seeking asylum or trade-war tariffs that may affect my family (we have a small niche farm that may be affected) or an ongoing investigation of foreign election collusion or….or, or, or any one of a host of things that haven’t already been said by other people in other places with more knowledge. Forget knowing what to say – I don’t even know what to think, or what to do, without curling into a howling ball of despair.
Still – I’m not exactly a stranger to trying to go about your life when it feels like the world is about to topple over a precipice. I had the luxury of being a teenager before; you don’t expect a 15-year-old to be dwelling on geopolitics anyway. The fact that I was aware of the comparative arsenals for the US and one of its rivals at that age was arguably really weird. But even then, that’s not all I thought about – I also thought about more typical teenage woes like acne and crushes and chemistry tests and losing the lead in the school play (I’d accidentally done something weird in the audition, but still felt like I was robbed, dangit). But being a teenager also gave me the freedom to check out and seek solace in more frivolous things, like movies – and books and music and silly gossip and in-jokes with friends. I wept a lot as a teenager, I woke up nights from nightmares where I thought the world would end – but I also made up alternate lyrics to Phil Collins songs and giggled over Star Trek episodes and talked about boys and sex in made-up code words and…
….And turned my face towards life.
The musician Bruce Cockburn is someone I’ve really only become aware of recently, but two of his songs would have easily made it onto my mix tapes as a teenager; he sounds like he was equally as aware of the dangers of nuclear war as I, and was equally as terrified. One of his songs in particular was about exactly this kind of life-despite-terror – Cockburn had a couple of daughters about my age in the 1980s, and was struck by how they were still going through the same kind of early crushes and pursuing the same kind of young-love romances that teenagers always have, even though they also knew that the world was in a dangerous state. They were no dummies – they knew, like I knew, that we could have blown up a thousand times over, overnight. And they were still nevertheless chasing after life and love in the face of it. He thought that urge was incredibly poignant, but also incredibly hopeful; and for them, he wrote the song “Lovers In a Dangerous Time.” (Linking you here to the Barenaked Ladies cover from the 1990s, which I slightly prefer.)
Of course, time went on, the Cold War ended and his daughters grew up. But the song is still just as relevant – in later interviews, Cockburn has noted that people struggling with the AIDS crisis or economic uncertainty or terrorism or any one of a thousand challenges have turned to it for comfort. And in 1990, when asked to comment on it for a collected songbook, he admitted “Lovers In a Dangerous Time” is pretty timeless – “Aren’t we all,” he wrote, “and isn’t it always?”
It’s not all simply a pretty love song, though. For most of the song the lyrics are about finding love in another, chasing it despite the threat of annihilation and terror – “Spirits open to thrusts of grace, Never a breath you can afford to waste…” but at the very end, the words are a call to action:
“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight,
You’ve got to kick at the darkness ‘till it bleeds daylight.”
And that is what seeking solace in life does. Spending time with the things and the people you love to rest and regroup, and remind yourself of the reason you’re fighting. And then – when you’re ready, get up and move forward again.
Because love always wins.
Love. Always. Wins.