“The Big Chill” was my anthem in my early twenties. The movie about the coming of age of a bunch of college graduates struck a nerve in my own navigation of becoming a woman and a wife. I watched it over and over again. Friends watched it with me, and we sighed with understanding of the journey we were taking and its inevitable losses and gains. The writers saw me, moved me and showed me the way. I relished every second of its embrace.
It’s been almost 6 months since I left my job. I’ve spent some time traveling, been obsessed with a transformative election and fretted about my future. There is movement in this transition much like the movement afoot during my early twenties. I am navigating a new phase of my life, a possible reinvention of my career while at the same time grieving the losses of my life before. Excitement quickly morphs into fear. Loss is overshadowed by hope. Youth is transformed by the marching of time. And, this time, the culture is moving with me. There is so much changing right now, and I suspect much more change is ahead of us.
“The West Wing” has been my salve and solace. A friend of mine nailed me on my obsession with “The West Wing.” “Josh Lyman is your kind of guy,” she said. His combination of sarcasm, wit, energy and intelligence has me wishing for my own Josh live-in. But there’s much more to my obsession with this show than my romantic female fantasies. The show epitomizes the destabilizing movement of time. The actors age and evolve. The issues of more than a decade ago still play out in the news. Time goes very quickly but change is very slow.
I’m on my second watch of the series, and I’m fast-forwarding because of its removal from Netflix on December 24. I’m also listening to “The West Wing Weekly“, a superb rehash of every episode complete with interviews and guest appearances of the actors, writers and producers on the show as well as political experts of the topics in question. I am seeped in this world, and it is seeping into me. I dream about it at night and wake up listening to the podcast each morning.
Last night I watched “A Change is Gonna Come”. It’s the second time I’ve seen it, but I’m in a different place now. I don’t even remember it from the first time, but I was so transfixed this time that I woke up this morning wanting to watch it again. Six months into this journey, I’m ready for a change. With a vaccine available, our world is ready for a change. With so many uncomfortable truths unearthed during this pandemic, our country is ready for a change. We are on a precipice.
This episode features James Taylor singing a rendition of Sam Cook’s song of the same name. It comes at a time when the President is starting to experience some troubling physical changes, the next election is coming up which will bring enormous change, and changes are happening for all of my beloved characters. We know that the world as they know it will no longer exist. The moving lyrics of this lovely ballad dubbed over the faces of my beloved cast of characters moved me. And the movement toward the unknown felt very familiar.
This morning I have an appointment with a recruiter about a nonprofit job. Immediately following I have a meeting with my coach. By noon I may have an inkling about my immediate future, or I may be back in the dark. Either way I will continue to stare into the unknown. There will be no answers today. My only hope is to become comfortable with not knowing, to embrace the void. Oddly enough, when I watch “The Big Chill” now it seems completely stupid. I can’t imagine ever relating to those characters or that plot. Anthems are forged at the intersection of life and feeling. We are in a collective moment of change. We don’t know what life will look like six months from now. But we can all be sure that “a change is gonna come”. I hope it sounds as beautiful as this.