I don't know about you, but over the past few years I just sort of checked out on the refugee crisis. It felt too big to understand, too much to drown in. And it gnawed at me, to turn away like that. A new friend suggested I read a book by Wendy Pearlman, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria. Through interviews with Syrians of all ages and backgrounds, the book crafts a history of the country - what happened during the Arab Spring, the war that followed, the stories of folks that left, and their reflections now. (She also writes a more linear account of the history, which can be read at the front of each section.)
"Our dreams have changed in stages. Our dream before the revolution was different than during the revolution, and it's different now. We've accepted the fact that we need to make our dreams smaller if that's what it takes to keep dreaming." - reflections
I was profoundly moved by this book - stories of people so much like me, grappling with impossible choices in uncertainty and fear, and with profound love for their home and families. It took me a whole month to read it. I could only do it in pieces, only during the day, only with some beauty or kids nearby. I think that's so important, to buoy ourselves with beauty and joy, so we can have a heart strong enough to crack open when it listens.
These women and men to me live the very definition of resilience, courage and commitment. Over and over they shared how things would have been much different if the world had listened earlier.
I know there's lots of reasons not to, but it there's something you checked out on, something happening to our human family, it's not too late to lean in. It's not too late to listen to what our grief has to show us, and where it points.
I'm with you while you do it. And Frank Ocean too.
I think there's no greater call to us artists than to create songs to sing during all of this. Here's a live audio peak of the music video I'm making next month, sung by the audience at the Ivy Room. Listen close and you can hear our arrangement sung by my incredible friends Kin, Mandy Paige Bayless and Kele Nitoto.