Hi all and happy new year.
And what a new year, huh? I know this is late, but January was pretty extreme, leaving me rather stupefied and dumbfounded such that I found myself at a loss for words.
Anyway, I’ve been listening to a lot INXS these past few weeks.
I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because I feel like we’re in a time of transition and that we finally have some time to reflect on the past year(s) before moving forward. In reflecting, I recognize that, among the high amount of stressful news of the past year, we lost many great luminaries. The one that hit me the hardest was the death of Chadwick Boseman.
And when I think about tragic deaths, I think about Michael Hutchence of INXS, so that’s probably why… Hutchence was named the sexiest man alive in the mid-90s and the wild man of rock. Unfortunately, he took his own life in 1997, after years of suffering from depression. U2’s Bono wrote a song to him, trying to say that he was stuck in a moment and couldn’t get out of it.*
Boseman gave the commencement speech at Howard University a couple of years ago, in which he reminded those graduating that the key to life is to find purpose. There were, are, and will always be struggles–personal hills to climb–and they are different for different people, but the important thing is to live to an ideal, even if it means taking the more difficult path. He also gave this extremely important piece of wisdom: you sometimes have to fall down a few times in order to understand what your purpose is.
You are stronger each time you get up. So long as you learn and reflect and stay true to your ideal projected self. (This reminds me of Schwarzenegger’s recent message about how, like Conan’s sword, our democracy is stronger the more it is tempered.)
And as Hutchence sings in “Tear Us Apart“, we’re connected. Forever. I know he was singing about romantic love, but I believe this extends to all love and to love for humanity and for Mother Earth. We’re all connected. If only Hutchence could learn from Bono and find strength in his connections.
It’s not too late for us to learn this lesson. Take this moment to catch your breath and reflect on our collective connectedness. Soon–like really, really soon… now even–we move forward. We have a lot to catch up on if we’re going to make the world better.
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(I’ve been sending periodic emails to current and former students. I still mean to trim the list some time this quarter so lmk if you def want to stay in it (or if you def want to be out). If you’re interested, an archive of the emails can be found here: https://markdangerchen.net/2020/06/03/letters-to-my-students/)
*: U2’s lead singer Bono wrote the lyrics about the suicide of his close friend Michael Hutchence, lead singer of the band INXS. The song is written in the form of an argument about suicide in which Bono tries to convince Hutchence of the act’s foolishness. Bono characterised the song as a fight between friends, which he felt guilty for never having with Hutchence.