I’m So Tired
Rufus Wainright’s set with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra last month came to a screeching halt halfway through a song. I don’t remember the song. But I do remember what he said.
November 2018: I’m So Tired
- “The Blues Ain’t Wilhelm” — The Charlatans
- “Falling From Cloud 9” — Lift to Experience
- “Going to a Town” — Rufus Wainwright
- “This Town” — The Go-Go’s
- “Monie in the Middle” — Monie Love
- “Cool Generator” — Bad Moves
- “Cold Blooded Old Times” — Smog
- “Buena (Alternate Version)” — Morphine
- “Evolution” — Cat Power
- “I’m So Tired” — Fugazi
- “Straight Out the Jungle” — Jungle Brothers
- “Love Movin’ (f/Black Thought)” — J Dilla
- “Fall to Sleep” — The Wild Reeds
- “Rocky Raccoon” — The Beatles
- “El Rey de la Puntualidad” — Fania All Stars
- “Love Child” — Diana Ross & The Supremes
“You’re on the wrong part.”
A stutter of notes and a barely discernible beat, and everything was off. But Rufus knew. Rufus knew because it was his song and it was his show and he wanted it right, in the spirit of the moment. So he stopped everything and they talked a bit and launched back into it.
I was awestruck. No exaggeration: I was fascinated by his boldness. But, I wonder now, why is that something even worth being fascinated by? Isn’t that exactly what should happen? Isn’t that what you should do when something’s messed up? Stop everything, adjust the moment, fix the damned thing, and carry on.
How comfortable, I thought, it must be to see something going wrong and be bold enough to stop it.
The truth is … I’m tired.
It’s been a rough two years for those who give a shit about, you know. People. And now here we are, the night before election day, and some of us are anxious because good god what if it doesn’t get better. Some of us are straight up frightened.
What’s scarier to me, though, is that some of us aren’t. Some of us are cool with this. With our kids being murdered. Our places of worship brutalized. Our journalists killed and our rights taken away and our general sense of decency wiped clean and left sterilized.
It would sound like villainy if I hadn’t seen it on the news for two years.
So, here I am. Tired.
Tired of a lot of things, but mostly tired of the constant onslaught of horribleness, and of trying to keep a head above the flood, all while promising our kids that the world isn’t really like this — that there’s always a pile of absolute garbage, and that pile of absolute garbage is a part of life — but that the rest can really be beautiful, and it can be strong and it can be faithful to the ideals of peace and nature and empathy.
It’s just that the garbage is loud. And it’s in charge. Right now, at least.
We also try to show our kids that the world is full of … things. We all have things. Those things are anxieties, and they’re differences, and they’re quirks and they’re all worth fighting for. Sometimes they’re things we love, and we want them to be acknowledged. Sometimes they’re things we fear, and we want those fears to be empathized.
But we all have things, and those things make us different, and those differences are okay. I try to help them understand that we should treat each person as if their things are the most important things in the world, because, for some of them, they are.
My kids get it.
I wish more people did.
I’m tired. But it’s easy for me to be tired.
There are more out there who have earned some rest, much more than me. They’re out there, exhausted, walking door to door, putting everything into this midterm cycle, looking for answers and gathering the courage to stop the song. To try to get things back in line.
I keep going back to that Rufus Wainwright show, except this time it’s a different song — one I’ve had stuck in my head all week. A beautiful song called “Going to a Town.” A song that, when rolled out near the end of his first set, without acknowledgement, felt as if it separated the assumedly partisan audience into two camps: those white knuckling the chairs in stoic defiance, and those — myself included — who sighed a bit, understanding the sentiment.
“I’m going to a place that has already been disgraced,” he sang. “I’m gonna see some folks who have already been let down.”
“I’m so tired of you, America.”
I’m tired too, Rufus. I’m so tired. I’m tired of America; of this America, at least, where we can’t even figure out kindness anymore. The song — our song — is being played incorrectly, and it’s up to us to fix it. To readjust the tempo, to change the beat a bit, with a level of boldness that we often try to forget.
That’s why I donate. That’s why I teach my kids kindness over anything else. And that’s why I vote.
I just hope it’s enough.