Life in progress


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“Armed with will and determination, and grace, too.”

I may sound like a broken record, and for that I apologize. It’s the Canadian thing to do, eh? But I feel the need to record this both for myself and on behalf of my fellow Canadians.

There is no power equal to that of music. It brings us together and gives us, as humans, a connection that crosses all barriers. As one who has traveled the world for the privilege of hearing it live, I can attest to this. It’s one thing to listen to it on the radio, or on your home stereo, knowing that you can replay it a million times, but that’s light years from standing before a stage, surrounded by not only the sound but the energy, the vibration, and the unique experience that is being at a concert. It must be that, times ten, for the performers.

So we come to the point. The Tragically Hip. In case you somehow missed the news, their lead singer, Gordon Downie, was diagnosed in May with terminal brain cancer. Their final concert last night at the K-Rock Centre in Kingston was a one-off like none other. I watched as Gordie stood on stage with his eyes closed, absorbing the sound, the experience, just as I have so many times. Living in that moment because that moment was all he had, and all he will ever have. I pray he wasn’t in pain, that the adrenaline was enough. We, as a country, watched as he bravely did what he does best. If he’s like me, he shared with us what he loves the most besides his family – the power of music.

He spoke about The Hip’s third performance in Kingston, 28 years ago, when six people attended the show. Last night it’s estimated that 11.7 million Canadians watched their final performance. It wasn’t enough for me to watch it after the fact: I needed to feel the undeniable connection of my country, my Prime Minister who was there at the concert less than an hour from where I live, and of course, the band.

This video, choppy as it is, shows a moment at the end that will stay with me for the rest of my life. As someone on twitter said last night, we watched a man who is dying. With Courage and Grace, Too.

Grace, Too

He said, “I’m fabulously rich, come on just let’s go”
She kind of bit her lip, “Jeez, I don’t know”
But I can guarantee, there’ll be no knock on the door
I’m total pro, that’s what I’m here for

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with will and determination, and grace, too

The secret rules of engagement are hard to endorse
When the appearance of conflict meets the appearance of force
But I can guarantee, there’ll be no knock on the door
I’m total pro here, that’s what I’m here for

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with skill and it’s frustration, and grace, too