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Seasonal sadness?

Sunday in the Park

By Teri Orr
Park Record columnist

I’m crying a lot these days.

I am in good health and so is my little family. Nothing on the surface is wrong with my life or anyone’s life close to me. I admit it might be seasonal. The slant of the light. The endless commercial spots that profess to know what would make me happy. The tug on the heartstrings from the chords of a carol sung slow and low.

I cried this week when President Obama sent me a letter (you too?) and thanked me for “all we accomplished together.” And while I understand it is a form letter to anyone who donated even a dollar, I do remember the event in ‘07 when he came thru here and spoke at the parking lot at the junction where the visitor’s center was (Before there was the faux tech building).

Then an hour later he delivered the same speech at the Cumming’s home on Old Ranch Road to folks who had paid real money to be there. I was part of the group who arranged to bring him here. He was inspiring and thoughtful and kind. We thought he was more exciting than Hillary. We thought he could win. We were right. Twice. And I got a bit weepy thinking about how all that hope felt, tasted, for years on end.

Facebook has fed some of this: postings from friends across the country who are struggling right now. One woman posted on Tuesday that she hated this week. Soon dozens of responses from across the country jumped right in to agree with her. No one talked specifics. Another post from Tennessee had a smart, funny woman, who is beautiful and works hard to stay that way, confessing her day had been so awful she was reduced to a Five Guys burger dinner with fries and a shake. And a chorus of support quickly filled her page.

So yes, social media contributes to the tears. The joy for the tribes in Dakota who had weathered the weather and the assault on their land and persons for nearly nine months as they tried to protect their sacred spaces and the water that gives them/us life.

I watched with envy as friends went there to help cook meals and build makeshift shelters. I envied their ability to pack up and go there to serve. When the veterans group decided to arrive and stand in support, it was a tipping point for many people and a new understanding of how we are all connected. How the beliefs those veterans had been willing to die for, still needed protection at home. The photo most recently of the group, led by veteran Wesley Clark, Jr., showed dozens of vets on one knee heads lowered receiving a blessing and asking for forgiveness for the decades of mistreatment by the American military of the Native Americans. And I cried when I saw it.

The horror of the fire and collapse of the makeshift artist co-op in Oakland. It spoke to the need for fair housing in a market where insanely rapidly growing tech jobs have eaten up all the affordable units. That fire started somehow while a party was underway and took the lives of more than 35 people. Quickly what sprung up was a philanthropic gift of nearly $2 million to provide safe housing to artists and arts organizations in the city. The government of Oakland and big-hearted people there know the Arts are the soul of any community. And I cried because it took dozens of people dying a horrible death for that statement and action to be made manifest.

Locally, I learned this week, there are some homeless students at the high school ,who don’t have winter clothes. Quickly, quietly folks rallied to help. In the process they discovered we have dozens and dozens upon dozens of children in all our schools who are without winter boots or gloves or jackets. They are cold every day, which makes it hard to learn. A community-wide effort is now underway to help those children — all our children — so they have the clothing they need to stay warm and safe and dry amid a winter where good snow promises thousands of guests, who will spend millions of dollars, while being served by their family members in some fashion. And I cry when I think of the imbalance of it all.

The cold makes me cry. Not the temperature. The stillness. The beauty of being painted with a monochromatic brush. The quiet it brings. And the smell of the fresh cut greens; I love the cedar and the juniper best. The dressing of the house will come soon and it brings joy and a flood of memories and a cloak of remembrance for those who showed me how the holidays should be celebrated who are no longer here to celebrate with us.

Bundle up. The season is here and it can be bracing to feel. Tears on cold cheeks freeze fast. To find the warmth we need to be the warmth. And it isn’t always easy. Wrap that warm coat tight and donate your extra one(s). We are at our best when we give our best. Any day…even a bitter cold white Sunday in the Park.

Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.


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