Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Facing Down the Future Coming Fast

I was on a Rush Deep Dive webcast several days ago, and the song I was asked to analyze, from the "Hold Your Fire" album, was "Turn the Page." For those who read my blog, you may recall I mentioned it about a year ago, as I was commemorating the passing of Alto Reed, who played that haunting sax solo on Bob Seger's "Turn the Page"-- it's a very different song, but with the same name as the one by Rush. I have always liked them both: two different perspectives on how quickly things can change.

In the Bob Seger song, he sings about his life as a traveling musician, playing in city after city. "Here I am, on the road again, there I am up on the stage; here I go, playing star again, there I go, turn the page." Note how he is "playing" star-- it's not just a musical performance, but it's also a persona, the way he is expected to act. And then, it's time for the next city, and any ties to this one must be cut, and he's on to the next stage and the next performance.  

In the Rush song, Geddy Lee sings, "It's just the age, it's just a stage, we disengage, we turn the page." The stage-- referring, perhaps, to the venue where they play their music, or it could also refer to a stage of development in life.  Neil Peart's lyrics speak of how we are "racing down a river from the past," comparing our lives to "standing in a wind tunnel," or perhaps "standing in a time capsule," but in the end, we can't avoid "facing down the future coming fast." We try to outrun our past, but sooner or later, it catches up to us, and all we can do is either deal with it or try to disengage from it and "turn the page."

But it's not that easy, is it? On Thanksgiving day, my husband took seriously ill and I had to rush him to the hospital. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, and it took many days before he was well enough to come home. I didn't sleep much during that period of time, and no matter how I tried not to worry, I couldn't help feeling afraid. Of course, I tried to seem like I was in control-- I had courses to teach, and responsibilities at my job. So, I performed, as we all do when we have to; but inside, I was terrified.

On the 17th, it will be seven years since I had cancer surgery. I had wonderful doctors, and I am grateful to be alive. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't worry even now. I know logically that if the cancer hasn't come back by this point, it probably isn't going to. But I still lie awake at night sometimes, worrying about whether this story will have a happy ending. So far, it has-- I'm still here (much to the disappointment of my enemies). And so far, my husband's story looks much more promising than it did several weeks ago, and that too is good news. But the uncertainty about what lies ahead is sometimes difficult to avoid, and disengaging from it is hard to do.

On the other hand, I've found great comfort from the folks on social media who have reached out to me-- Rush fans, professional colleagues, educators, folks I knew in radio, friends who have stood by me for many years. Through my husband's illness, through my recovery from cancer, they were there for me. I don't know what the future will hold, but the compassion I've received has helped me to cope with the ups and the downs.  And in a world which at times seems dominated by the loudest voices and the folks who disagree, I find myself once again being thankful for those who brought me their friendship and their kindness-- gifts that matter now more than ever.


  1. We'll be hoping for the best outcome. Rush seems so prescient for what we'd need as we grew older. Those lyrics really hit home, as does (of course), Time Stand Still - "Freeze this moment a little bit longer, make each sensation a little bit stronger". I get chills even typing this. Who'd have thought, back when we serer young, that we'd be relying on our favorite trio to get us through this stage in our lives?

    Happy Holidays!
    --Henry Webb

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences as always, Donna. I'm reading your blog as I'm reflecting on Phil Collins' amazing presence at last night's concert despite his health crises. We don't always a person's struggle to stay strong. I'm here for you, always. Thanks for being a great colleague, friend and inspiration.