For something completely different, I have an earworm. You know… that one song that keeps playing over and over in your head until you want to scream? Also known as brainworm, sticky music and …
For something completely different, I have an earworm. You know… that one song that keeps playing over and over in your head until you want to scream? Also known as brainworm, sticky music and stuck-sound-syndrome (say that three times fast). No matter how you slice it, it’s really, really annoying. While it may be apropos to the current state of affairs, hearing Bette Midler singing her Grammy award-winning version of the song heard ‘round the world (over and over and over) is seriously working my nerves.
Still, 1991’s “song of the year” is considered by many to be soothing.
“From a distance, the world looks blue and green, and the snowcapped mountains white. From a distance, the ocean meets the stream and the eagle takes to flight. From a distance, there is harmony and it echoes through the land….”
At the risk of sounding corny, while simultaneously begging my brain to make the earworm stop, I paused and listened, as if hearing the song for the very first time. “It’s kind of how I’m feeling,” I said to the dog, who weakly wagged in sympathy. “Maybe it’s the 19 days in isolation,” I thought. “But I think Bette is trying to tell me something.”
“From a distance, we all have enough,” she repeatedly sang, still annoying, but ever-so-sweetly. “And no one is in need. And there are no guns, no bombs and no disease, no hungry mouths to feed.”
I thought about the friends and neighbors reaching out, checking in to make sure that Dharma and I are okay, dropping off groceries, sundries and even my mail (from a distance, of course), all while continually asking how they could be of help. I thought about Elinor Dandrea, a woman I don’t even know, who had sent a package from Livingston Manor, NY to the office (and then forwarded to me at home) containing a gift and a note.
“Hi, Jonathan,” Elinor’s card began. “We met at [Kristt-Kelly Office Supplies in Monticello, NY] and, like everyone who meets Dharma the Wonder Dog,” her note continued, “I fell in love. Hope you like my artful interpretation of her likeness in pin form.” Reaching into the box, I pulled out an amazing three-dimensional soft, fuzzy, incredibly artistic and unbelievably realistic needle-felted miniature likeness of my dog’s adorable face. “Happy to have met you, too,” the card concluded, acknowledging that I was even present at the time. Because, you know… it’s all about the dog.
Elinor’s out-of-the-blue artistic and inspirational act of kindness lifted my spirits and made me smile. “It’s the voice of hope; it’s the voice of peace. From a distance there is harmony,” Bette musically whispered in my ear, “and it echoes through the land.”
It was then that I decided to venture out into the world and get a look at the local COVID-19 landscape through my camera’s zoom lens. Safely ensconced in my car, I revved the engine with you-know-who at my side, excited to look at something, anything, other than me. We cruised through Jeffersonville, NY where there was minimal activity: one mask-clad person who quickly darted in and out of the pharmacy and a few cars in the grocery store lot. It was quiet—eerily quiet—and I moved on.
“Hey, mister!” I shouted to The River Reporter’s Fritz Mayer, who was puttering around outdoors with wife Anne Hart at his side. “Whatcha doing?” I asked.
We’re doing COVID chores” Anne shouted into the wind, which I assumed had something to do with seeds, soil, veggies and flowers still to come. With more than 50 feet between us, I could barely hear the couple who own Domesticities and the Cutting Garden in Youngsville, NY. “I’m checking out the neighborhood, you know… from a distance.” I shouted back, snapping a photo through the zoom. “Stay safe!”
As I steered through country roads, my dog stuck her adorable head out the window and I pulled into Livingston Manor, NY. “Somewhere in this charming town, Elinor Dandrea is making needle-felted gifts for people she doesn’t even know.” I thought. “Maybe there is hope for the world.” The Manor was like a ghost town, too, with the only activity was once again in the parking lot of Peck’s, where there were some shoppers, but thankfully not a tossed glove or mask in sight.
Heading towards home, I thought about all the kindness that people have been expressing, even amid arguments about who’s to blame and how to combat the pandemic. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. “From a distance,” Bette sings, “I just cannot comprehend what all this fighting’s for. We are instruments,” the songs reminds, “Marching in a common band. God is watching us,” the refrain suggests. “God is watching us from a distance.”
Fun Fact: “From a Distance” is a song written in 1985 by American singer-songwriter Julie Gold. Gold was working as a secretary for HBO and writing songs in her free time. Gold’s friend, Christine Lavin, introduced the song to Nanci Griffith, who first recorded it for her 1987 album, “Lone Star State of Mind.” The song was covered a number of times, with the most successful being a version by Bette Midler that became a major hit in 1990.