in my humble opinion

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 3/10/21

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes—how do you measure, measure a year?”

Those words were written and …

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in my humble opinion

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…

Posted

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes—how do you measure, measure a year?”

Those words were written and composed by Jonathan Larson for his award-winning Broadway musical “Rent.” According to Wikipedia, the lyrics to Larson’s song “Seasons of Love,” “ask what the proper way is to quantify the value of a year in human life, concluding in the chorus that the most effective means is to measure in love.”

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an old photo on social media that illustrated Larson’s point. “Just before COVID hit,” my friend Les Kristt had written as a caption. There I was, pictured at the Kartrite Resort and Water Park with the Wonder Dog at my side, celebrating something-or-other with a group of pals that included Les, Gary Siegel, Shane Merone and Barbi Neumann Marty.

I commented on the photograph, asking Les who took the picture and when. He was unsure of either, but responded online: “I would say right before we were not allowed [to go] out because of COVID-19,” Les wrote, alluding to the fact that the world was holding its collective breath that night in response to the latest news of the day. “I remember us considering not going to this gathering because of it.”

I recalled that, too, but the details are fuzzy. I do recollect that spring was right around the corner when the picture was taken and that everyone at the Kartrite that night was thrilled to be out and about, having suffered from cabin fever as we often do here in the Upper Delaware River region just before winter begins its not-so-hasty retreat.

 I remember milling about with the dog, chatting with others and wondering aloud if we should hug, or even shake hands. It was a bit surreal then, but little did we know that the nightmare had only just begun. As of this Friday, March 12, it will be a solid year since I went into voluntary lockdown and isolation here at Camp Fox. A year.

 “In daylights,” Larson’s song continues, enumerating the many ways with which we mark the passage of time. “In sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee,” his list goes on. “In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife... In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes—how do you measure a year in a life?”

I can’t imagine a single soul whose life has not been impacted by the circumstances of the pandemic. I don’t know about you, but mentally, I’ve been a work-in-progress for the last 12 months. Vacillating between wild bouts of personal growth, fear of the unknown and concern for myself and others, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows, creating a near-constant air of uncertainty, combined with weird bursts of creativity, that continues as a running theme to this day. A year.

Once again, Jonathan Larson’s words resonate: “In truths that she learned,” he wrote, “or in times that she cried. In bridges he burned, or in the way that she died.”

 According to the website Broadway Musical Home, the musical “takes place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as friends in Manhattan’s East Village struggle to build the lives of their dreams. Pennilessness, drug abuse, the HIV/AIDS [epidemic], social tension and political unrest, among other hardships, challenge the group physically and emotionally. Facing the problems head on, they make personal self-discoveries and find what really matters most in life.” Hmmm.

That description rings eerily true (IMHO) today. In the last 12 months, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for my home, my dog and my friends, who continue to check in with me and offer assistance even when I balk. Like many, I have been challenged by the past year—body, mind and spirit—but through it all, music continues to play an integral part in my life.

 Often referred to as “the universal language,” music and its effect on all creatures great and small has been studied by thousands. An interesting article titled “Your Brain on Music” written for PEGASUS: the Magazine of the University of Central Florida, states that music can “change your ability to perceive time, tap into primal fear, make you stronger and evoke memories.”

 As millions line up for one vaccine or another, we mourn the loss of those who have succumbed and continue to ask questions, even though we may never know the answers.

Our lives continue to play out against the backdrop of the pandemic, and while the story has yet to end, there is a glimmer of hope for the future. Once again, Jonathan Larson’s song speaks to me.

“It’s time now to sing out,” his players declare, “though the story never ends. Let’s celebrate, remember a year, in a life of friends. Sing out, give out, measure your life in love.”

Fun Fact: On Broadway, “Rent” gained critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The Broadway production closed on September 7, 2008 after 12 years, making it one of the longest-running shows on Broadway. The production grossed over $280 million.

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