12829043_10154764219683747_1422757073247409189_oMy good friend Jeremy Patterson has a new YouTube interview show called the Capital Area Theatre Show.  Guess who he invited to be his second-ever interviewee?

Tune in below or on the show’s YouTube channel to hear our milkshake-fueled conversation about art and life and idols and dreams and fears and insecurities, and why we do all that we do.  (And he eventually was able to steer me back around to Pippin, which was supposed to be the point of the show to begin with….)

PIPPIN LogoIf you’ve had your life together since day one, and don’t have any idea what it’s like to wonder who you’re supposed to be or what you’re supposed to do in the world, you may want to ignore this post.

The rest of us will want to make a point of being present in the luxurious Sunoco Performance Theatre at Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center when the Capital Area School for the Arts presents Pippin, the debut musical from the creator of Wicked and Godspell.

Actually, I probably should say the rest of you will want to make a point to be there.  I already have a confirmed seat for all four performances: on the piano bench with the rest of the band.  (I’m musical director and principal keyboardist for the production.)

At this point it’s customary for me to launch into a directorial testimonial of sorts, attempting to capture the magic of live theatre with a well-crafted list of superlatives in the hope that you’ll be motivated to give up a few hours on a weekend to spend time with talented high-schoolers.  But I think they can sell themselves better than I can do the job, even in a rinky lil’ iSight video through a tiny laptop microphone.  Here’s Drew Patti as Pippin and the rest of the company singing “Morning Glow” in rehearsal the other day:

Seating is general admission, and all seats are $12, available in advance at casamusicals.com.  Will you join us?

CAUTION: DO NOT ENTERI say a lot of things I have no right to say.  I’ve been known to comment on race (from a white perspective), nationalism (from a US-native perspective), physical disability (from an able-bodied perspective), gender identity (from a cis male perspective), religion (from a mainline-Christian-turned-Unitarian-Universalist perspective), and socioeconomics (from an upper-middle-class perspective).  And, occasionally, I do it right here in the (ahem) “privacy” of my own website, where anyone in the world can read it, even if they’ve never met me before and have no idea what a delightfully quirky and fabulously nuanced human being I am.[1]

Why?

Because, while I believe conversations about “isms” are crucial in the world right now, the white, US-native, able-bodied, cis male, mainline-Christian-turned-Unitarian-Universalist, upper-middle-class perspective is the only perspective I have.  I simply can’t speak from the perspective of a black person, or of a woman, or of an immigrant, no matter how many (trigger warning) “friends” I have in any of those groups.  And that makes me both profoundly sad, and profoundly grateful.

It’s upsetting to recognize the pain, frustration, and anger in those who write lists of “8 Things Transgender People Do Not Owe You.”  Or “10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair.”  Or “29 Stupid Things White People Do.”  I confess to being snared by the “gotcha” in the title of Charles Davis’s Vice column, “‘Microaggression’ Is a Stupid Word You Should Take Seriously.”   And this wonderful Everyday Feminism article—in which Jennifer Loubriel (a Woman of Color) gently, firmly, and very effectively supports a “no white tears” rule for cross-cultural conversations—was a difficult, difficult read.  The very act of seeking to empathize with a fellow human being, when done from a place of privilege, can be hurtful.  There’s no one for whom that doesn’t suck.

So with all that pain, with all those seemingly insurmountable obstacles between souls, where can I find cause for “profound gratitude”?

I’m profoundly grateful because the narrowness of my own perspective reminds me that only through connectedness can we approach perfection.  And I’m grateful too that we can only approach perfection: omniscience does not exist in the human animal, so we simply have to rely on one another to share wisdom, experience, and insight.  Our limitedness makes it essential that we nurture community, for the sake of our very survival.

Two videos showed up providentially on my personal Facebook feed within hours this past week.  The first was Julie Bindel’s opinion piece in The Guardian, reminding us that censorship, while it can be a tempting response to opinions we find upsetting, is generally counterproductive.  (“Political movements such as civil rights and feminism,” she reminds us, “have made such progress because we were able to hold people to account.”)  I know that some of my most cherished growth moments have come after my demonstrated ignorance, thoughtlessness, or naïveté were named and corrected, rather than simply being silenced.

The second video was this delightful out-coming by 24-year-old Australian train driver (and transman) Henry Tadebois, who requests that his friends and family begin to use his new name and appropriate pronouns, but assures them that “Don’t worry, I won’t get offended” if they slip up, before inviting them to “ask me any questions you might have.”  (And while this is indeed wonderfully generous of Henry, I will reiterate here the caveat I shared when I first re-posted the video on Facebook: Coming out definitely ≠ inviting your questions about stuff that doesn’t affect you. The revelation and the invitation are two different things.)

These two videos—the one, a warning against censorship; the other, an invitation to awkward curiosity—are opposite sides of the same coin, I think.  They both point to a truth that’s as fundamental to humanity as it is terrifying: No genuine community can exist unless we express and demonstrate a willingness to be offended.

That’s why wedding vows don’t specify that two people are joined “until one of them really crosses a line.”  It’s why my home congregation’s Covenant of Right Relations names very explicitly the fact that we expect to disagree with one another, but that we commit to “staying at the table” in spite of those disagreements.  And it’s why, whenever I come out to a new person or group of people, I always invite the audience to ask whatever questions come to mind.

I’m a white, US-native, able-bodied, mainline-Christian-turned-Unitarian-Universalist, upper-middle-class cis male.  The “gay card” is really the only strike against me in the Privilege lottery, so I’m all but immune to oppression and bigotry.  Not everyone can stand in this place of safety and speak as boldly as I do.  But if there’s something you wonder, or something you’re curious about, or something you feel a need to say, please say it.  If it’s none of your business, I may tell you so.  But more likely, I’ll answer you as forthrightly as I’m able.  That’s the best way for both of us to grow.


[1]And modest. I’m also very modest. Be sure you mention to people how modest I am when you tell them about this blog.

 

20160219_123751If you’ve tried to access davidmglasgow.com over the last 36 hours or so, chances are you received at least one very apocalyptic-sounding error message.

My entire domain (goodness that sounds regal) was down, and it was completely my fault. It’s back up now—thanks more to people who know much more than I about these things than to the self-flagellation I’ve been engaged in since yesterday morning—so website and email should be functioning normally again.

If you’ve tried to reach me, please accept my apology and re-send your message.  (There’s a contact form here if that’s easiest for you.)

woodbowlYou’d think, for all the times I’d shouted “STRONG AND WRONG!!!” at my students with clenched fists in the air and mock rage on my face, that I’d be better at it.

But every time I get ready to upload a new recording to my Demo Recordings page, the script starts again: “Is this really ready to share?  Shouldn’t I listen through again to be sure it’s okay?  Couldn’t I hit that note a little more in-tune?  Shape that phrase a little more precisely?  Bring out that nuance with a little more agility?”

“Someone to Fall Back On,” from Jason Robert Brown’s first solo album, Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes, is one of those songs that just reaches into my chest and makes me feel.  “I am no prince,” he says; “I am no saint.  And if that’s what you believe you need, you’re wrong….”

I have loved singing this song since I first discovered it.  I’ve used it at workshops, in worship, and in concerts.  And I’ve never once sung it perfectly.

There’s that out-of-nowhere high A in the last line of the bridge.  The high G at the end that I want to hold two beats longer than my lungs want me to.  And of course the fact that I can’t actually make it through the whole song without choking back tears.

But every time I’ve sung it, I’ve heard that sound in the audience after the last note fades away: the silence of held breath, of self-recognition, of mute gratitude for the blissful agony of shared pain.  Something in us needs to remember—and to be reminded, often—that to be human is to be flawed, and that therefore to be flawed, in some perplexing but profoundly important way, is to be perfect.

This recording is flawed.  The song doesn’t sound as good here as it does in my mind when I daydream.  But when I listened through just now, before uploading it, I thought of all the people in my life who I’ve been able to “fall back on,” and all the people in my life I hope trust they can fall back on me, and I had the kind of cry that feels really, really good.

Be well, y’all.