by John Zielinski
Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s the first and last parts that are on my mind today.
Many years ago, as part of a college humanities course, I was introduced to Krzysztof Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. It was presented as part of a class concerning the interpretation of pieces of music based exclusively on listening. We listened to a recording without being told either the title or the composer. We then discussed our interpretations of what we heard. I said that the piece struck me as representing either destruction or creation. My professor pressed me. He said that it couldn’t be both, so which was it? I argued that for something to be created something else may need to be destroyed. Years later I learned that I wasn’t alone in this belief.
I finished my undergraduate degree at DePaul University in Chicago. You may not know this, but DePaul is the largest Roman Catholic university in the United States. Yes, bigger than that joint down in South Bend, Indiana. Anyway, to graduate I needed a certain number of credit hours in theology or philosophy. I met these, in part, with a class in comparative theology. That’s where I was first introduced to the tenets of Hinduism. There I met Shiva.
Shiva is known as “The Destroyer” within the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. On the other hand, in Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. Shiva’s role is to destroy the universe in order to re-create it. Imagine that. He’s the destroyer as well as the creator. Where had I heard that before?
Some time ago – I’m not quite sure of when – I met a guy named Joe Tortorici through Facebook. I have no recollection of how I connected with him, but it had to be through someone that we both knew. Since that time, I’ve connected with a lot of other wonderful people through Joe. (You guys know who you are.) At some point Joe decided to create an e-zine/blog that he called The Chicago Progressive. For some insane reason, he asked me if I’d be willing to be a contributor. I said, “yes,” and that was the beginning of a publishing relationship that has lasted to this day.
I submitted my last piece for The Chicago Progressive on June 24, 2015. The title was And So It Goes. The e-zine was closing up shop. I figured that was the end. Some time later Joe told me that he was creating a new entity. That was Central Standard Time – what you’re reading now. He asked if I’d be willing to contribute. Of course, I said yes.
Between the Progressive, CST, print publications, academic work and professional outlets I’ve written on a number of different subjects: music; the music business; politics; ideologies; religion; belief versus knowledge; education and many others. Some of those pieces wrote themselves. Others were dragged to publication kicking and screaming. It’s been a great ride. Still…
March was a challenging month for me. I was forced to confront mortality multiple times. Within the space of 2 weeks I grieved the passing of my 92 year old aunt (the last member of the generation of my parents in the family), a friend with whom I served on a board and from whom I learned much, and my niece who was only 23 and just starting life. I also learned of the recent death of a friend from my high school days. On top of that I’ve been challenged by non-human entities that may he reaching the ends of their existence. Everything and everyone has a beginning, a middle and an end. Sometimes the hardest thing is trying to determine when it’s the end. Without the end there is no beginning.
Every single one of us faces so many choices concerning beginnings, middles and ends on a regular basis. Should I take this new job? Should I say goodbye to the career to which I’ve dedicated so much time and energy? Is this relationship (whether it be with a spouse, romantic partner, friend, colleague or someone else) something that’s run its course and needs to end? What do I do now? Sometimes we need to say “goodbye” to one thing to say “hello” to another. I think that I’ve reached that point.
I’m tired of the inanity and insanity that I encounter every day on the street and in various media. I’m tired of people – young and old – who either don’t understand the principles on which this country was founded or don’t care about preserving them. I’m tired of people who’ve forgotten the challenges that have been faced and surmounted in their lifetimes and who choose to call this the worst situation that America has ever faced. I’m tired of people on the left and the right hating the other side. I’m tired of people hating the other whether that’s someone of a different political view, religious alliance, ancestry, race, sexual orientation or anything else. It’s time for me to give it up and stop writing for public consumption.
April Fool! I’m not going anywhere. There are too many fights that need to be fought. There are too many things out there that deserve attention and an advocate and criticism. I’ll continue to put down words as long as there’s a venue to present them and people who want to read them. If you keep reading, then I’ll keep writing.