Friday, July 24, 2009

Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream."

Millions, myself included, were moved, indeed inspired, by the now iconic performance of this song by Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.*

I still have it saved on my favorites and tonight as I have done other nights I played it again. Over the course of many listenings I paid more attention to the lyrics. I thought I had heard what I had heard but until tonight I had not confirmed it. I downloaded the lyrics tonight. They are reprinted below.

Susan Boyle is a dowdy spinster. She said on B.G.T. that she had been singing since she was twelve years old. She had a dream. But life--bald luck, her village isolation, her looks--had theretofore deprived her of her dream. She said all she needed was a chance. And she made the most of it.

But we must pay attention to the lyrics, for it was Ms. Boyle who chose them along with the song. They tell, I think, the story of her life, and sadly the denouement when nerves got the best of her and she lost in the finals in a performance subsequent to the one that enchanted the world.

Here is the section of the lyrics that I noticed, and when I read them and think of the person and the life that led to their selection from all other songs and lyrics in the world there is a profound sense of sadness:

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed

Ms. Boyle came across on B.G.T. as a determined, batty, Englishwoman. There is a fine, long tradition of determined, batty Englishwomen like Ms. Boyle, like Dickens' Betsey Trotwood. They are one reason why there will always be an England.

Ms. Boyle "had a dream" that her life would be shaped by her incandescent voice. It was a dream life "so different from this hell I'm living" as a dowdy, middle-aged, village-inhabiting nobody ."I Dreamed a Dream" tells, therefore, Ms. Boyle's own very personal story.

It took courage for Ms. Boyle to sing that song. Many people couldn't have done it; it is too personal, too painful. Yet she did, and as she predicted she rocked that studio audience--and the judges--, and in our YouTube age she rocked the world.

Ms. Boyle transcended her life in the collection of villages she lives in. She will get a recording contract, or contracts, but she will never achieve the fame of the star she told the judges she hoped to emulate. She will likely become a one-hit wonder. Her YouTube moment may last a very long time. It should because it gave inspiration to so many. But in this bottom line world she came in second and few remember the losing teams in the Super Bowl.

And so Susan Boyle's denouement may not be so different from the hell that she was living before B.G.T. She was so close and if her dream is stolen after being in her grasp, the pain of her unhappy, unfulfilled life will be worse for what may have been, because cruelly Ms. Boyle killed the dream she dreamed.

I hope that the plucky spirit of this batty Englishwoman is not crushed by her failure to win, for in the fall and rise and fall of Susan Boyle is one variant on life's possible trajectories. If there is wisdom that comes with age (and that is the old person's conceit) it is the wisdom of reaching. Effort is all, and we must never give up reaching. It is only when we give up reaching that our failure is complete and our lives irredeemable.

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

*See also May 15, 2009 post.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite Dies

Cronkite's signature moment, stifling emotion, announcing the death of JFK.

-David Ranck

Thursday, July 16, 2009

To Miami Criminal Law Community

Hello folks!

The last time I wrote here on any subject I posted my resignation email. I have been out in private practice for 2 1/2 weeks now. Arnie Trevilla has been the most wonderful friend to me and I am sharing space with him.

Here is a shameless plug for Arnie: He deserves it, and much more.

My first day out I got an email from a person who I hardly knew. That contact resulted in a meeting then another meeting and culminated in me getting involved in a case that I am very excited about. Girlfriend aside I haven't been able to reveal to anyone what it is but I hope to write about it here, soon, and often.

I have been surprised at the transition. Even though I left on the worst possible terms and under the worst possible circumstance (of my creating, not the office's) I thought I would miss the office more. But the last five years, since I sent the Barquin email to the administration, have not been fun. Being an A.S.A. was the only professional job I ever had and I loved it. But the first day out, as I drove past the S.A.O. and continued driving to Arnie's office I didn't have a wistful or longing moment. And when I walked into Arnie's building I didn't have a disconnect.

However the people, administration aside (of whom I also expect to write soon and often), I miss terribly: the A.S.A.'s still in the office, and perhaps most of all the support personnel.

There is one aspect of the transition to private practice that has been excrutiating so far. Those of you who know me well know that I have Z-E-R-O business or financial aptitude. I often didn't pay attention to the check at lunch and would just throw some bills on the table, which resulted in a 100% tip on occasion. I haven't kept a checkbook in 15 years and couldn't keep it straight when I did. Every client I interview I want to represent for free, or at least half off.

It has been a daunting change.

If it wasn't for my friend-girl, and Arnie's advice, I'd be done.

I'll see you down the road.