Dear friends of Switchback,

I know you are probably as weary of the pandemic as I am. I look forward to the day when music can be played without any risk except for hitting a wrong note. So while I wait for that day, I am grateful to be able to celebrate Aine’s birthday in person this year.

Eight years ago when she was born, we were in the midst of the polar vortex. At the time, it was looked upon as a major irritation and inconvenience. Eight years later, that whole time seems quaint in comparison to the utter loss and chaos brought about by Covid.

Aine is like a lot of kids her age. It is scary to be young, living in a world where grownups call the shots. She hears about climate change, the people in politics who are acting younger than she is, the fear of getting and possibly dying from Covid. Those who wear masks and vaccinate, and those who choose not to. People acting out in rage. I can go on.

When I drive her to school, she asks those round-about questions or statements that represent those fears.

“If people breathe, they are letting out C2O, Poppa.”
“It’s CO2,” I say. “Yes, people and animals breathe out CO2.”
“We need more plants and trees to absorb the CO2, right? We have to fix the planet.”
“Don’t worry Aine, humans are pretty smart, we will figure out how to protect our world.”

“Have you ever been in an ambulance, Poppa?”
“No Aine, and I hope I never have to. Or that you don’t have to, either. Unless you wish to be an ambulance driver.”

“Can I have a sleepover?”
“Yes, but we have to make sure that the family is tested. And we will have to test, too.”

She bears it all remarkably well. Wearing the mask to school. She takes in the reports of a child or two at school who have the virus. Families who have a relative fighting Covid. People who have died.

Yet, I look at her and I am hopeful. I am hopeful that her generation might be the generation that gets it all right. Or partly right. Even that would be great. There is a strength and hopefulness in her. We have done music shows from home during the pandemic and she participates with joy, a great sense of humor and a killer harmonica.

She might give Uncle Brian a run for his money.

She draws, she paints, she is better at math than I ever was. She has dreams of what she wants to be. An engineer and a musician. Next week that might change, but she is looking ahead.

In the meantime, I ask myself. “What can I do?”
Aside from holding my breath, what can I do to help her world become that much better? It can’t only be on these kids’ shoulders. We have much to do.

Playing music has always been my way of creating peace and community in the world. I am happy that people (who otherwise might be tweeting negative things about the other) can sit at a Switchback concert and be one. That has been thwarted. But I believe in the WayGood World and that together we will figure a way.

We all have fears. Us big people are fearful as we don’t know what the future will bring. It’s easy to fall prey to those who love to stoke such fears. We cannot control the future, but we are able to control ourselves, our thoughts, channel our fears into constructive and kind communication. We can do that just within this wonderful musical community we have made together for almost 40 yeas.

That in and of itself would make one young girl’s future all the brighter.

Let’s make it a WayGood World,