Thursday, January 30, 2020

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is my fifth anniversary as a blogger; I tend to post on a bi-weekly basis, and my readership varies-- typically, it's about 100-150 readers (now and then, as many as 300), but any number is okay with me. I know I'm not a celebrity, and I've never expected millions of page views. In fact, I'm grateful there are some folks who find my posts worth reading.

But the past several weeks were anything but typical, as any Rush fan knows; and nearly 13,000 folks kindly stopped by to read my previous blog post-- a tribute to drummer par excellence Neil Peart, who died way too young, after a courageous three year battle with cancer. 

Since Neil died, I still find myself feeling somewhat disoriented at times; I mean, I know he's gone, but it still just doesn't feel right.  Many fans have reached out to me online and we all shared our emotions and our recollections.  I also spoke to Neil's dad, and his sister, and his closest friend, and I sent along my condolences to Alex, Geddy, and their families.  I wrote a newspaper article about his career, and I was invited to talk about him on several podcasts and radio interviews. Fans told me they appreciated what I said, but to be honest, I kept wishing I didn't have to do it. I kept wishing Neil were still here.

If you're anything like me, perhaps you find some comfort in the day to day routine.  The new semester has begun at the university where I work; I'm teaching three courses and I advise the school newspaper. And I continue to research and write free-lance articles about media history.  (I like to keep busy, especially in difficult times.)  Meanwhile, I'm about to have another birthday on Valentine's Day; God willing, I'll be 73. 

Sometimes, something will happen in politics and I remember a conversation I had with Neil: he used to get really annoyed at politicians who only cared about money and power, or who acted in ways he considered heartless. I couldn't agree more. He also wasn't a fan of the endless arguments some people keep having on social media. But speaking of Twitter and Facebook, I think he'd be proud of the Rush fan base-- just as during his life, Rush had fans from all over the world who came from just about every political point of view, after he died, fans united around the sense of loss they felt, and debates about political issues seemed far less important than honoring someone whose music had changed so many lives.

And here we are, still trying to make sense of what happened, still trying to cope with something that seems so unfair.  As for me, I am making donations to some of my favorite charities in his name (check out if you haven't already). And while it's difficult to get used to his not being with us, the friendships he helped to create and the love he inspired from the fans lives on.  At times like these, I am so grateful to be part of the extended Rush family, and to join with them in celebrating Neil's life.  


  1. Well said Donna. I think all of us in the Rush community are taking this loss particularly hard. I still get choked up and teary eyes and it truly doesn’t even feel real. It’s amazing to me how the passing of a man I never personally met has left such a huge void. His lyrics spoke to me for 40 years and his mastery of the drums blew me away. Although he’s no longer with us in the physical form, I’m grateful that his lyrics and music will stay with me til my last day on this earth. What a tremendous loss! I envy that you actually knew Neil. For those of you fortunate enough to have been his friends, especially Geddy and Alex and his family, my sincerest condolences. It’s as if a part of my youth has been stripped so I can only imagine how those in Neil’s inner circle must feel. 💔🙏🏼

  2. I too am finding his passing hard to move on from and I had no relationship with him except as a fan of his playing and, even more so, his writing. He was a wordsmith in the truest sense and my own writing is better from reading his. I also find myself reflecting on the life lessons I took from his songs and books. Tyryism being one of my favorites because he gave hope to those who aren't naturally talented at a new task that we will get there too if we just keep trying. "Lead Left" "Left Lane Hogs" and "The Anti-Destination League" are also among my favourite adopted phrases that I credit to him whenever I use them. Credit where credit is due, eh?
    Mostly I find myself reflecting on the fact that in the billions of years this planet has been spinning around I was blessed enough to be alive at the same time Neil Peart walked the Earth. Think of those odds and while you deal with the sadness of his parting also be happy you won that particular lottery. For us there was quite literally "A Prize Every Time".

  3. I haven't been able to stop listening to a playlist I created last year called "Canada's Best Live" that is solely populated with live Rush tracks and the entire final concert by The Tragically Hip. Man, the foreshadowing when I created that one is a little too hard to ignore. It's my Canadian Dead Poets Society in song. I know that sounds morbid but it's not really. Now it is my celebration playlist and my tribute to two of this nation's most gifted lyricists. To paraphrase Ian Hunter - Canada Rocks!

  4. So true. While I admit I had already grieved somewhat at the news that Rush was to stop touring, with no plans to record as a group and finally that NP was officially retired from drumming period. It didn't dawn on me then, but sure didn't make any sense either. Unfortunately now it all makes total sense.

    I missed the R40 tour. Saw so many shows over the years and always hoping to catch Jacobs Ladder but was never ever played. Was delighted to see on DVD!

    Still, while I have found some comfort in going back to Anthem & ByTor I can't watch the concert footage, not yet. And I can not imagine Geddy & Alex ever playing another Rush song, I just can't.

    Buy I do feel such a sense of pride that so many close friends knew about the diagnosis for years and kept it secret. Amazing and yes,understandable. In life and in death he did it on his terms.

  5. Excellent post, Donna. Thank you. I can't seem to get my head right with it, either. It's still seemingly surreal to me. I guess I must be in the denial phase. I am not sure how long it's going to take to reach acceptance, but I will get there eventually. Meanwhile, I'll throw on Signals, or 2112, or something and muddle through with a faint smile and tapping foot.

  6. Donna thank you once again time heals and you have such fond memories to cherish
    Neil touched many people with his outstanding musicality his writing
    And excellent candid interviews
    Most of all we all respected his privacy
    And that was wonderful he could enjoy that
    I hope you can take some time out too
    And keep busy and of course relaxing
    It's bird watching this weekend
    Hope to see some short eared owls
    And enjoy some fish and Chips have a nice weekend take care big hugs from
    The UK

  7. So well Said, Ditto ! I seem to feel the same as so many writings that I see but I just can’t seem to get the words down..... Thanks to you all !!

  8. Thanks for this Donna. Greatest drummer tick; wonderful lyricist tick; articulate, warm, intelligent human being tick. I am from the UK & was lucky enough to see Rush 7 times between 1983 & 2013 & they always gave a masterclass in musicianship & entertainment. Neil was a truly inspirational figure to me for the 38 years I knew he existed & I have only ever said that about my dad who passed away nearly 8 years ago. For me the biggest tragedy in Neil's passing are the years to come with Carrie & Olivia that they all now miss out on. For Neil, in light of his previous tragedies, I find this heartbreaking. RIP Neil & sincerest condolences to Carrie & Olivia & all in the extended Rush family, & that includes you Donna. Much love.

  9. Your words echo exactly how I feel " I just wish he was still here" Just like when Bowie died the world just doesn't feel the same without these shining lights.

  10. In my own small honour to Neil I'm trying day to day to be the best person I can be and try to reach within myself to perhaps try harder and do more with my own albeit limited talents and I have to say already especially at work it's having a really positive outcome. Thank you for everything Neil you will always be a total inspiration to me.